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i^7> 2L0./D 




CLASS OF 1892 

-v; J.i- ■^-;' ■ . 


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4< /o'/fi'^^^ 



XTbe Camelot Series 

Edited by Ernest Rhys 





Samuel Johnson 



1750-1752 ; ; 


1753 ; AND 



With Biographical Introduction and Notes by 

Author of ''The Life and7jut£s.4^ydney Smith." 




/^/77, ^p,l 

^^/v.\ ^'y/^^/y^ 






GOOD 13 







MENT a;; 






























15irections to authors attacked by criticks. the 

various degrees of critical perspicacity . . . i78 

Many advantages not to be enjoyed together . 182 



CIOUS ... 192 





'^*~*^^l CHARACTER OF A LIAR 21$ 
















THE idler's character 






DICK shifter's rural EXCURSION . 
OMAR'S plan of LIFE .... 



r N the early years of the Eighteenth Century the dim and 
1 unpretending book-shop of Michael Johnson, at the 
comer of the Market-place in Lichfield, was one of the 
established resorts of the more leisured and learned inhab- 
itants of that quaint and somewhat sleepy old city. In the 
dosing years of the Nineteenth Century the house still 
stands, and has become a place of pilgrimage, for there — on 
the i8th September 1709 — that "great master of reason," 
Samuel Johnson, was born. Booksellers in the reign of 
George the First were not to be found in every town ; yet 
it is charitable to suppose that Lichfield, being the seat of a 
bishopric^ must needs even then have been also a seat of 
learning. There, accordingly, Michael Johnson fixed his 
abode and proffered his wares. That he did so with some 
d^ree of success is evident from the following sentence 
firom a letter written from Nentham to Lord Gower*s 
chaplain in 17 16: — "Johnson, the Lichfield librarian, is 
now here ; he propagates learning all over this diocese, and 
advanceth knowledge to its just height ; all the clergy here 
are his pupils, and suck all they have from him." Though 
old Mr. Johnson kept a shop, the shop would not have 
kept him if he had not acted occasionally on the aggressive. 
He^ therefore, was accustomed, at set times and seasons, to 
journey to Birmingham, Uttoxeter, and other neighbouring 
'iownSi in order that he might tempt local patrons of literature 



by displaying his choicest volumes for their inspection. 
Samuel Johnson was thus cradled amongst books, and such 
a circumstance, no doubt, did much to awaken within him 
at an early age not only a thirst for knowledge, but also 
some degree of literary ambition. 

His mother seems to have been a peevish woman, of 
gloomy temperament and slender education. She knew 
nothing of books, and her chief topic of conversation 
over the family fireside was the rather embarrassed con- 
dition of her husband's affairs. This was a subject which 
poor Michael Johnson, who was manfully struggling with 
debts contracted in early life, would gladly have shunned, 
and hence, after vainly attempting to lift the household 
talk to other levels, the badgered bookseller sought refuge 
in silence. "My father and mother," relates Johnson, 
**had not much happiness firom each other. They seldom 
conversed, for my father could not bear to talk of his 
affairs; and my mother, being unacquainted with books^ 
cared not to talk of anything else. Had my mother been 
more literate, they had been better companions. She 
might have sometimes introduced her unwelcome topic 
with more success, if she could have diversified her con- 
versation. Of business she had no distinct conception ; and 
therefore her discourse was composed only of complaint, 
fear, and suspicion.'* Unfortunately, in one particular at 
least, husband and wife were but too much alike; years 
after the little shop at Lichfield had become only a 
treasured memory. Dr. Johnson was compelled to confesa 
that " neither of them ever tried to calculate the profits of 
trade or the cost of living.'* All that is known of Michael- 
Johnson — except his debts — is to his credit. Unlike man 
booksellers who know only the titles of the books the 
handle, he was a man of more than average attainmentst— 


clerical gossips of a cathedral city found his shop a 
sant lounge, and Michael Johnson seems to have been 
to hold his own with the best of them. In a small way 
.spired to the dignity of a publisher, and stray volumes 
even yet be occasionally picked up with his name on 
itle-page. With the citizens at large he stood well, and 

holding several minor appointments, his character and 
ic spirit won emphatic recognition by his election to 
)ffice of chief magistrate in 1725. As for Mrs. Johnson, 
withstanding the failings of training and temperament 
h fell to her share, she was unquestionably a woman of 
religious principle, and the upward bias which she gave 
jr child's life in twilight whispers in a little room at the 
)f the house was never afterwards lost Whatever devo- 
the good woman displayed towards her boy was repaid 
ndredfold by him in after years. Nothing, even in a 
ilarly noble life, was more touching and beautiful than 
reverent loyalty with which Johnson cherished his 
wed mother. 

le conditions under which he began the battle of 
rere in other respects singularly unfavourable. Scrofula 
;d havoc with his features, and hypochondria cast 
hadow over his spirit Disease had scarred his face^ 
he had lost the sight of one eye ; whilst the melan- 
(r from which he suffered, from youth to old age^ 
frequently intense enough to cloak his life in gloom, 
veil has described those "convulsive starts and odd 
culations which tended to excite at once surprise and 
ule;" and Johnson himself states — ^in a letter written 
1 he was seventy-three — "My health has been, from 
wentieth year, such as has seldom afforded me a single 
of ease." His curious trick of touching the top of the 
s as he walked through the streets, as well as the 


anxious and awkward strides which he took in order to 
avoid placing his feet on the cracks in the flags, were habits 
which doubtless were unconsciously acquired. In later life 
Dr. Johnson's tall and burly figure conveyed the impression 
of rude health ; yet, in spite of the energy which marked 
his movements, and the vivacity which characterised his 
speech, this appearance of physical vigour was deceptive, 
and only his intimate friends were aware of the extent to 
which he suffered at times from extreme lassitude. 

The children of the middle classes at the beginning of the 
Eighteenth Century were not coddled in the maudlin fashion 
which prevails to-day, and Johnson was no exception to the 
rule At the age of three he was sent to a dame's school, 
and it was not long before his natural independence of 
spirit and vehemence of temper were curiously displayed. 
The servant who usually took him to and fro one day failed 
to appear, and the sturdy little fellow, impatient for his 
dinner, set off alone. His schoolmistress, afraid of some 
mishap, followed him at a short distance. Suddenly the 
child turned round and saw her, and indignant at being 
thought unable to take care of himself ran back in a 
temper and struck his would-be protectress again and again. 
Trivial though the incident is in itself, it is noteworthy as 
the earliest glimpse of that self-reliance which distinguished 
his entire career. Before he was eight years old he was 
sent to Lichfield Grammar School, where he speedily 
became known as a lad in whom great natural parts were 
linked to a dilatory and indolent temperament He 
possessed a most retentive memory, and was able, as one of 
his friends said, to "tear the heart out of a book" with 
wonderful rapidity; this enabled him to glean more at a 
glance than other boys were able to gather in an hour. 
The head-master was a stern disciplinarian. ** My master," 


he used to say in after years, "whipt me very well. 
Without that, I should have done nothing." In spite 
of his physical inertness, he could not bear to be second to 
another lad, and under the stimulus of his master's cane 
and his own ambition he contrived to keep at the head of 
the school ** They never," he told Boswell, with evident 
pride, " thought to raise me by comparing me to anyone ; 
they never said, Johnson is as good a scholar as such a one, 
but such a one is as good a scholar as Johnson ; and this 
was said but of Lowe; and I do not think he was 
as good a scholar.* At the age of fifteen he was sent for a 
year to a school at Stonebridge in Worcestershire. The 
master was an able but idle man, and treated Johnson with 
great severity, yet, he admits, " he taught me a great deal." 
Years afterwards, in talking over his boyish experiences 
with Bishop Percy, Dr. Johnson declared that at Lichfield 
he learnt much in the school, and little from the master ; 
but whilst at Stonebridge, the master taught him much and 
the school little. 

In 1726 he returned to Lichfield, and the next two 
years were chiefly spent in his father's shop. During this 
period he read hard, though in a fitful and indiscriminate 
fashion. Michael Johnson's shelves provided him with an 
abundance of provender, and if he did not study systemat- 
ically he duly availed himself of the resources which were 
placed at his command. His wide acquaintance with 
books dates from the years which he thus spent browsing 
amid the literary treasures of the comer shop in Lichfield 
market-place. Full of ambition, and conscious of his own 
powers, Samuel Johnson was both restless and proud, 
and chafed not a little at the drudgery and restraint of his 
father's business. One day Michael Johnson was too ill to 
take his accustomed stand behind a stall oi \^qc!«& Sxi 


Uttoxeter market, and naturally he looked to his son to 
occupy his place. But the young scholar, moved by false 
shame, flatly refused to play the shopman in the open air. 
Half a century later. Dr. Johnson, in the fulness of his fame, 
did voluntary penance for that impulse of false pride: 
** To do away with the sin of this disobedience, I this day 
went in a post-chaise to Uttoxeter, and going into the 
market at the time of high business, uncovered my head 
and stood with it bare an hour before the stall which my 
father had formerly used, exposed to the sneers of the 
standers-by and the inclemency of the weather ; a penance 
by which I trust I have propitiated heaven for this only 
instance, I believe, of contumacy to my father.*' The 
quality and depth of the great moralist's nature leaps to 
light in an act of atonement which vividly reveals the rever- 
ence and tenderness of a troubled and self-accusing heart 

In October 1728, when in his twentieth year, Johnson 
went as a Commoner to Pembroke College, Oxford. Dr. 
Adams, afterwards Master of Pembroke, told the awkward 
and ungainly scholar that he was the best-equipped student 
that had ever come to the University. His rooms at Pem- 
broke College were upon the second floor over the gateway. 
The force of character which had made him supreme 
amongst his companions at school asserted itself equally at 
college. He was accustomed to lounge at the gate, the 
centre of an admiring group; but an empty purse and 
hypochondria raised a barrier between him and other 
young men, and he seems to have formed no intimate 
friendships at the University. Boswell says that during hi^ 
residence at Oxford, Johnson was "depressed by poverty 
and irritated by disease," and yet, in the reminiscences of^ 
the men who knew him there, he is pictured as reckless and ^ 
gay. Never were appearances more deceptive, as his own^^ 


words testify — "Ah, sir, I was mad and violent It was 
bitterness which they mistook for frolick. I was miserably 
poor, and I thought to fight my way by my literature and 
wit; so I disregarded all power and all authority." So 
great, indeed, was his poverty, that it could not be hid \ his 
stockings appeared through the holes in his shoes. Yet 
Johnson felt that there was one thing worse than poverty, 
and that was patronage. In haughty independence, and 
with bitter chagrin, he flung contemptuously away the well- 
meant dole of shoe leather placed by some friendly^ hand 
outside his door. Privation he could endure : in that lay 
no degradation ; but at least he would not escape from it 
by accepting the windfall of a beggar. At the end of three 
years — ^in the autumn of 1731 — ^Johnson was driven to bay 
by the three-headed monster, pounds, shillings, and pence, 
and abrupdy quitted the University. As he had not com- 
pleted the prescribed term of residence, he was compelled 
to leave without a degree. 

Whilst at Oxford a book had fallen into his hands 
which left a deep and abiding impression on his mind. 
It was LaVs Serious Call to a Holy Life. He relates 
that he took the volume up, expecting to find it dull 
and open to ridicule. "But I found Law quite an over- 
match for me; and this was the first occasion of my 
thinking in earnest of Religion, after I became capable 
of rational enquiry." Henceforth it was impossible for 
him to live any longer at random ; he took a Master, and 
was done with doubt. In Boswell's words — "From this 
time forward Religion was the predominant object of his 
thoughts; though, with the just sentiments of a conscientious 
Christian, he lamented that his practice of its duties fell far 
short of what it ought to be." His father's affairs were 
rapidly falling into disorder, and he was no longer able to 


dole out the pittance on which his son had contrived to 
support life at the University. " Poor Samuel Johnson " — ^to 
quote Boswell again — accordingly "returned to his native 
city, destitute, and not knowing how he should gain even a 
decent livelihood." Shortly after he returned home, in the 
autumn of 1731, his father died At length he obtained a 
situation as an usher in a school at Market Bosworth, but 
he was ill adapted to the monotonous drudgery of this 
position. In a letter to his old school-fellow, Mr. Hector, 
of Birmingham, we find him stating that his life was as 
" unvaried as the note of the cuckoo ; " nor did he know 
" whether it was more disagreeable for him to teach, or the 
boys to learn the grammar rules." He appears to have 
been treated with harshness at Market Bosworth, and that 
studied insolence which never allowed him to forget his 
poverty and dependence. Such a life was intolerable to a 
man of the temperament of Johnson, and at the end of a few 
months, unable to endure the slights which it brought him, 
he quitted an uncongenial and irksome position. 

Thrown once more upon his own resources, and without 
any definite plans, he gladly availed himself of an invitation 
from his friend Hector to visit Birmingham, and thither he 
accordingly went in the summer of 1732. His sojourn in 
that town was rendered memorable by two circumstances, 
one of which was his first attempt at literature and the other 
his marriage to Mrs. Porter. It chanced that Mr. Hector 
lodged with a bookseller called Warren, who was also 
proprietor ot the Birmingham JournaL To this paper 
Johnson contributed essays, and undertook also to translate 
and abridge from the French A Voyage to Abyssiniuy by 
Father Lobo, a Portuguese Jesuit. He had read the book 
at Oxford, and it was at his own suggestion that Mr. Warren 
commissioned him to translate it He began this literary 


task with characteristic ardour, but presently his constitu- 
tional indolence asserted itself, and the printer was in 
despair. It was only when Mr. Hector informed him that 
the poor man and his family were suffering through the delay 
that Johnson resumed his wort. The book was pub- 
lished in 1735, and he received five guineas for hia 
labour ; a smaller sum, it has been said, than " was 
paid to the mechanic who set up the type." Traces 
of the vigour and originality which distinguished the 
prose of his later years are apparent in the lucid and 
forcible preface to a volume which would long ago have 
sunk into utter oblivion but for its association with Samuel 
Johnson's tentative efforts in literature. Bos well was 
probably correct in supposing that his study of Lobo'a 
Abytsinia suggested, many years later, to Johnson the scene 
in which the story of Rasselas is laid. Extremely little is 
known concerning his life in Birmingham; he was full of 
literary plans and projects, but they all fell to the ground j 
he attempted to obtain the post of head-master of a school, 
but the fact that he could not boast of a degree spoilt his 
chances ; it was a period of uncertainty and privation — a fit 
prelude to the long struggle which awaited him elsewhere. 

The rashness of genius is proverbial, and when John- 
son's battle for bread at the point of the [len was but 
beginning, he complicated matters by marrying, on the gth 
of July 1735, Mrs. Eliiabeth Porter, the buxom and mature 
widow of a Birmingham mercer. Johnson was not quite 
twenty-six when he took this step, and his personal appear- 
ance was the reverse of prepossessing ; he is described as 
being at that time "lean and lank, so that his immense 
stnictLre of bones was hideously striking to the eye, and the 
SCATS of (he scrofula were deeply visible." Love enters a 
woman's heart through hearing ; Mrs. Porter was captivWyi 



by her ungainly suitor's conversational powers, and she 
declared that he was the most sensible man she had ever 
met in her life — a compliment which the moralist may be 
said to have won at the expense of the mercer. If the 
bridegroom was lean and lank, the bride was stout and 
small, and in point of age there was no comparison between 
them, for she was twenty years his senior. That Johnson 
loved his " dear Tetty " with deep and beautiful devotion, 
and saw in her a thousand excellencies which were hidden 
from other eyes, we have abundant evidence; and if her 
tenderness towards him must be largely taken on trust, we 
at least know that she proved in years that were dark and 
dreary, in spite of a good deal of foolish affectation, a brave 
and practical wife. Her first husband died insolvent, but 
under a settlement she brought her second eight hundred 
pounds. Straightway the young scholar determined to set 
up a private academy, and with this end in view he hired a 
large house within a mile or two of his native city. An 
announcement duly appeared in the GentlematCs Magazine 
for 1736, which ran as follows : — "At Edial, near Lichfield 
in Staffordshire, young gentlemen are boarded and taught 
the Latin and Greek Languages, by Samuel Johnson." 
Poor fellow 1 he quickly found that it was an easier matter 
to issue an advertisement than to get satisfactory replies. 
Only three young gentlemen came to board, and to be 
taught Latin and Greek by Samuel Johnson ; but one of 
them, David Garrick by name, was worthy of his master. 

Presently, the old question of ways and means had again to 
be faced; the rent of the ** large house" was on a corres- 
ponding scale, and the parents of the three pupils were not 
in a position, even if they had been so minded, to spend a 
fortune over the education of their sons. In short, the 
Edial enterprise did not prosper, and it was well for the 


world that that particular adrertisement evoked so little 
response. Destiny had other work for Samuel Johnson, 
and young gentlemen were to be drilled elsewhere in the 
classics by other and more conventional pedagogues. 
In weariness and chagrin of spirit, the school was aban- 
doned, and with one tragedy in his pocket, Johnson, in 
1736, turned his back on the spires of Lichfield, and entered 
London to begin another. Lord Macaulay points to that 
precise period as one in which the condition of a man of 
letters was most miserable and degraded. - ' It was a dark 
night between two sunny days. The age of Maecenases had 
passed away. The age of general curiosity and intelligence 
had not arrived." Grub Street, moreover, was no mere 
figure of speech, for with its poverty and squalor the author 
by profession was only too well acquainted. When Johnson 
arrived in London he sought out a bookseller called Wilcox, 
and told him that he meant to get his livelihood by 
literature. With a significant glance at his robust frame, 
Wilcox replied. "You had better buy a porter's knot." 
Literature and London were, however, to share between 
them the energy and resources of that wise and valiant 
heart, and though for galling years of obscurity the rewards 
of the one were small and the neglect of the other great, 
with both, long before the end of his life came, the fame of 
Samuel Johnson was indissolubly linked. 

During his residence at Birmingham an impecunious 
painter had indoctrinated Johnson into the mystery involved 
in ** living in a garret on eighteenpence a week," and circum- 
stances over which he had no control now brought the 
friendless scholar perilously near to the practical application 
of the art. London, in the reign of George the Second, was 
full of literary hacks, some of whom were in the pay of the 
poUishers, whilst others lived from hand to mouth supporting 


existence in Grub Street on a still more miserable anc/ 
precarious pittance. Swift, in describing his " Hospital for 
Incurables," declared that "at least forty thousand incurable 
scribblers " would require asylum within its walls. Accord- 
ing to Smollett^ " Authorlings," to quote his own expressive 
phrase, were the castaways of other professions; and 
frequently it happened that their only qualification for the 
vocation of letters was their absolute failure in some less 
difficult field The plight to which "distressed poets" 
were reduced may be gathered from the pictures of Hogarth 
and the prose of Johnson. The Life of Richard Savage^ for 
example, reflects not only the abject poverty of the poet 
but of his biographer, in those dark and troubled years 
when whole nights were spent by the pair in tramping 
round and round St. James' Square because between them 
they could not raise the few pence necessary to procure 
the mean shelter of a cellar. 

Johnson never described the real nature of the struggle 
through which he passed between the years 1737 and 
1747, though late in life he burst into tears at the re- 
membrance of the privations he had then endured. . Yet 
even when his fortunes were at their lowest ebb he never 
lost faith in himself, or stooped to those mean artifices by 
which less scrupulous men pushed their way into notice. 
Not without justice has Carlyle placed him foremost in his 
"dust and dimness, with the sick body and the rusty coat," as 
the representative of the " Hero as Man of Letters" — " The 
largest soul that was in all England, and provision made for 
it of * fourpence-halfpenny a day.' " Cave, the publisher of 
the GenHemaris Magazine^ gave him multifarious but 
scantily paid tasks, and the best years of his life were spent 
in this obscure drudgery. In 1738 he published anony- 
mously, *' London, a Satire" The merit of the poem was 


instantly recognised, and Pope declared that the author 

would soon be known. There are passages in " London " 

which suggest the difficulties with which its author was 

gallantly contending, and one line at least was manifestly 

borrowed from his own experience : — 


Slow rises worth by poverty depressed." 

If further commentary be asked on such a text, it certainly 
is furnished by the six additional years of troubled indigence 
which awaited Johnson before he finally emerged from 
obscurity with his Life of Richard Savage — a classic 
biography which reflects the lights and shadows which 
marked the course of an unhappy child of genius. In 
Johnson's estimate of the unprincipled poet's career, justice 
and mercy are admirably blended ; and if the warmth of the 
friend tempers the severity of the moralist, commiseration 
of Savage in his suflering and distress is associated with 
emphatic condemnation of those reckless and vicious habits 
which — far more than any outward misfortune — ^were the 
real cause of the pitiful and tragic collapse of a life which 
once was full of brilliant promise. 

Johnson threw his whole soul into this vivid piece 
of portraiture; and yet he contrived to finish it with 
surprising celerity. "I wrote," he relates, "forty-eight 
of the printed octavo pages, at a sitting; but then I 
sat up all night." This book brought him fame, and 
the friendship of Sir Joshua Reynolds; but the fifteen 
guineas for which he sold the copyright to Cave, though 
welcome enough, did not do much towards placing him in 
a sound financial position ! He was still so shabbily dressed 
that when Cave invited him to a meal at his house he sat 
behind a screen, as if ashamed to be seen by the other guests. 
In 1745 he published in pamphlet form his " MiscellaAeQU!& 


Observations on the Tragedy of Macbeth " together with a 
prospectus for a new edition of Shakespeare. Nothing 
then came of the suggestion, but Bishop Warburton, struck 
with the ability of Johnson's criticisms, spoke in genial 
terms of the pamphlet — a circumstance which was never 
forgotten — ** He praised me at a time when praise was of 
value to me." Two years later, in 1747, a great literary 
project, which he afterwards declared was " not the effect of 
particular study but had grown up in his mind insensibly," 
took definite shape by the publication of his " Plan of the 
Dictionary of the English Language." Dodsley was the 
first to suggest the idea of the Dictionary, and the " Plan," 
which was addressed to the Earl of Chesterfield, was not 
published until Johnson had definitely accepted the offer 
of a syndicate of booksellers to compile such a work for 
;^i575, a sum which represented eight years of continuous 
toil; not only on the part of the "great lexicographer," but 
of the six ** harmless drudges " whom he was compelled to 

Meanwhile, though he had acquired a certain degree 
of fame, his fight with poverty was by no means ended) 
indeed, fifteen years had yet to roll away before a 
pension of ;^3oo — granted to him in 1 762, when he was fifty- 
three years of age — gave him that lettered ease which he was 
so peculiarly fitted to adorn. The year 1749 witnessed his • 
final attempt to court the muses ; the " Vanity of Human 
Wishes " was then published, and " Irene,*' a tragedy, 
which he regarded with great expectations, was placed upon 
the boards of Drury Lane, through the friendly ofiGices of his 
former pupil, David Garrick. The "Vanity of Human 
Wishes," in spite of its ethical suggestiveness and sonorous 
rhythm, was not so popular as "London;" whilst the 
tragedy was coldly received, though Garrick did his best 


to throw vivacity and life into its representation ; the "little 
fishes " talked like ** great whales," and " Irene " herself 
was but ** Dr. Johnson in petticoats ' Early in the following 
year the first number of the Rambler appeared, and, in 
Boswell's words, Johnson came forth as a " majestic teacher 
of moral and religious wisdom." The first number was 
published on Tuesday, the 20th of March 1750, and though 
at first its success was doubtful, its author lived to see ten 
editions of these collected essa)rs. The Rambler was pub- 
lished every Tuesday and Friday until March 1752, and not- 
withstanding that he was now engrossed with his work on 
the dictionary, Johnson wrote almost every number ; Cave 
paid him at the rate of four guineas a-week. Although 
published without the author's name, Garrick, Samuel 
Richardson, and others quickly recognised that only one 
person in London was capable of producing the Rambler^ 
a paper which Lady Mary Montagu declared followed the 
Spectator in much the same way as *'a pack-horse would do a 
hunter." Johnson told Sir Joshua Reynolds that he was quite 
at a loss how to name the paper. ** What must be done, sir, 
will be done. I sat down at night upon my bedside, and 
resolved that I would not go to sleep till I had fixed its title. 
The Rambler seemed the best that occurred, and I took it." 
Arthur Murphy, in his essay on the life and genius of Dr. 
Johnson, published in 1792, hints that the true e3q>lana- 
tion of the pompous and pedantic terms which occur all too 
fireely in the Rambler is to be found in the fact that he was 
absorbed at the time in the dictionary, and "as he 
grew familiar with technical and scholastic words, he 
thought that the bulk of his readers were equally learned, or 
at least would admire the splendour and dignity of the style." 
One of the jokes which ran about the town was to the 
effect that Johnson employed hard words in the RambUr 


in order to render his forthcoming Dictionary indispensable. 
His literary ascendency as a moralist and critic, and the 
dictatorship to which it gave rise, dates nevertheless from 
the period when his right to speak with authority was 
vindicated beyond further challenge, by the appearance of 
those wise and profound reflections which arrested the 
attention of all thoughtful men in the modest pages of 
the Rambler. On the 14th of March 1752 the last number 
was published ; it was written when the shadow of death 
was settling over Johnson's home in Gough Squar^ Fleet 
Street ; three days later, his wife died. To the end of his 
life he cherished with fond and reverent affection the 
memory of his "dear Tetty." The anniversary of her death 
was spent by him in prayer and self-examination ; and the 
lapse of years seemed only to reveal in numberless pathetic 
ways how tender and enduring was the love he had given her. 
The weeks which immediately followed the burial of his 
wife in Bromley Churchyard, Kent, were spent by Johnson 
in deep and listless dejection. He was too good a num, 
however, to succumb even to such a blow, and his pub- 
lished " Prayers and Meditations " point to the manner in 
which he renewed his strength. The lonely house was 
haunted by memories of the happiness he had lost He 
wandered from room to room, unable to work, for each 
recalled too vividly the "touch of a vanished hand, and 
the sound of a voice that was still ; " at length, climbing to 
the top of the stairs, he turned the garret into his study, 
because it was the only place in his desolate home in whidi 
he had never seen his wife. It was a dreary, inconvenient 
spot in which to live and labour, but it was less painful to 
him to sit there than in any other part of the house. Dr. 
Bumey accompanied him one day to his garret in Gough 
Square and found " five or six Greek folios, a deal writii^- 


desk, and a chair and a half. The chair with three legs 
and one arm Johnson took himself, and gave the other to 
his guest*' 

During the darkened months of 1753, Johnson, in 
Boswell's words, " relieved the drudgery of his Dictionary 
and the melancholy of his grief" by contributing essays to 
the Adventurery a publication on the lines of the Rambler^ 
which his friend Dr. HaWkesworth had started. Extremely 
little is known of his life during the next two years beyond 
the fact that he was toiling over the concluding pages of 
his great work. In the autumn of 1754 the University of 
Oxford conferred upon him the degree of Master of Arts, 
an honour which gratified him exceedingly; in 1765 
Dublin bestowed upon him the distinction of Doctor of 
Laws \ and exactly ten years later his own university paid 
him a similar compliment. Towards the close of his life 
Dr. Johnson often visited Oxford, and on these occasions, 
according to Lord Stowell, he "wore his gown almost 

The year 1755 was rendered memorable by the publica- 
tion of the Dictionary — an event which placed his 
reputation as a scholar beyond all further challenge* 
When, after a thousand vexatious delays, the last sheet 
of the Dictionary had been placed in the hands of 
the publisher, Johnson demanded of the messenger, 
" What did he say ? " " Sir," was the somewhat reluctant 
reply, " he said, * Thank God, I have done with him I ' " 
" I am glad," was the amused lexicographer's retort, " that 
he thanks God for anything." Seven years before, under 
the belief that the Earl of Chesterfield meant what he said 
wben he promised to befriend him, Johnson had dedicated 
to that dilettante patron of learning his " Plan of a 
Dictionary of the English Language." Chesterfield at that 


time was Secretary of State, whilst Johnson was poor, and 
comparatively unknown. Nothing, however, came of the 
earl's assurances, and the struggling author was treated 
with contemptuous neglect. But when the Dictionary was 
at length on the verge of publication, and the public curiosity 
concerning it was thoroughly aroused, Chesterfield dashed 
off in the columns of the World a couple of laudatoiy 
articles on the forthcoming book and its author, which 
called forth in reply the celebrated " Letter " which 
demolished not merely the pretensions of that particular 
"patron," but the hateful system of patronage itself: — 
" Seven years, my lord, have now passed, since I waited in 
your outward rooms, or was repulsed from your door; 
during which time I have been pushing on my Work 
through difficulties, of which it is useless to complain, and 
have brought it, at last, to the verge of publication, without 
one act of assistance, one word of encouragement, or one 
smile of favour. Such treatment I did not expect, for I 
never had a patron before. ... Is not a patron, my lord, 
one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life 
in the water, and, when he has reached ground, encumbers 
him with help ? The notice which you have been pleased 
to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind \ 
but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and I cannot 
enjoy it ; till I am solitary, and cannot impart it ; till I am ' 
known, and do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical 
asperity, not to confess obligations where no benefit has 
been received, or to be unwilling that the public should 
consider me as owing that to a patron, which Providence 
has enabled me to do for myself." The "retired and 
uncourtly scholar,'' as Johnson describes himself in an 
earlier part of this scathing epistle, not only by it " gave the 
world assurance of a man," but made a new departure in 


literature, by teaching authors to appeal directly to the 
public, and to abandon princes and peers to their own 

The compilation of the Dictionary brought fame to 
Johnson, but it did not relieve his financial embarrassments ; 
for the truth was, that a great part of the sum for which he 
had agreed to compile the work had been advanced to him 
diu-ing the progress of his labours. After the completion 
of the book, he seems to have rested for a while on his 
oars; but at length, on the 15th of April 1758, he began 
the Idler — a periodical essay, which possibly received its 
title from his own condition at the moment, to which it was 
meant to act as a corrective ; for dotted down in his private 
journal just then are the words, " This year I hope to learn 
diligence." It was published every Saturday in the columns 
of the Universal Chronicle^ and was printed in bold type in 
a prominent part of the paper, like a modern leading 
article. The essays were continued until 5th April 1760, 
and out of the hundred and three which appeared, all 
except twelve were written by Johnson. 

The publication of the Dictionary — a monumental work 
which displays the range of his powers and the breadth of his 
scholaiship— lifted Johnson to supremacy amongst con- 
temporary men of letters. On the death of Dryden, in 
1700, Pope, after an interval of eleven years, had succeeded, 
by the publication of his Essay on Criticism^ to the vacant 
literary dictatorship, a position which he held to his death 
in 1744. Curiously enough, another period of eleven years 
elapsed, which ended in Johnson's elevation to power by 
the appearance of the Dictionary in 1755. Dryden, Pope, 
and Johnson exercised a lordship in letters which has had 
DO parallel in the present century, though it is possible to 
trace, even amid the widely changed conditions of modern 


life, at least a reflection of it in the Victorian Age, in the 
oracular literary and social judgments on men, movements, 
and books of Thomas Carlyle. In a letter which Smollett 
wrote to Wilkes in 1759, Johnson is described as the "great 
Cham of literature,'* a term which — ^like those which were 
afterwards given him of " Dictator '' and " Sultan " of English 
literature — sufficiently attests the unique place and power to 
which the once friendless scholar had at length fought his 
way. That very year Johnson's tender heart was 
filled with anguish by tidings of the death of his mother 
at the home of his childhood in the market-place 
of Lichfield. He had always been a loyal and affectionate 
son, and out of the poor pittance with which literature had 
rewarded him, he had given constantly with a reverent and 
generous hand to his aged mother. Yet he vexed his 
great heart with imaginary remissness, and was sorely 
troubled by the thought that perhaps he ought to have 
done more. To pay the expenses of his mother's funeral, 
and to wipe off the few modest debts which remained, he sat 
alone in his garret with his grief and wrote the classic pag^ 
of Rasselas — his only romance. It was written in the evenings 
of one week, and it more than procured the sum which its 
author needed. Always keenly alive to painful associations, 
Johnson could not bear to look at the book when it ap- 
peared, and he never read it in print until many years after- 
wards, when on a journey he came across a copy by chance. 
One of the earliest and best rewards of literary success is 
the opportunity which it brings of intercourse with kindred 
minds. The Rambler introduced Johnson — ^just at the 
time when he most needed solace — to a group of men who' 
quickly became his loyal and devoted friends. Foremost 
stands Bennet Langto n. an amiable young Lincolnshire 
squire, very tall and equally polite, of polished manners and 


courtly bearing. Mr. Langton was so much charmed with 
the wisdom and wit of the Rambler that, in an acute fit of 
hero-worship, he took coach to town to pay homage to its 
author. Bennet Langton was one of those men who seem 
to go through life apologising for their own existence. He 
used to sit ** with one leg twisted round the other, as if 
fearing to occupy more space than was equitable ;" and this 
characteristic led him to be compared to the meditative 
stork standing on one leg near the shore, in Raphael's 
cartoon of the Miraculous Draught of Fishes. Johnson . 
playfully declared that Bennet Langton's mind was as 
exalted as his stature ; and, like a good Tory of the old 
school, he loved his new acquaintance none the less for 
being a man of ancient family. When thirty years had 
rolled away, and Johnson's life was closing, Bennet 
Langton — tender as a woman — ^was by his side. 

A very different man was Topham Beaucle rk — ^versatile, 
£suscinating, accomplished, travelled, sarcastic in speech, 
light of heart, and of easy morals. It is hard at first 
sight to understand what two such men as Johnson and 
Beauclerk could have had in common; but the difficulty 
at least partially disappears when we remember that 
Beauclerk was at once a wit, a scholar, and a brilliant 
talker, who had seen much of the world, and was not blind 
either to its foibles or his own. These qualities in 
themselves were, however, not enough to win Johnson's 
friendship, or to conquer his scruples. He scolded Bennet 
Langton for associating with so dangerous a companion, but 
gradually his resentment vanished, and though he still 
shook his head at certain wild pranks, he became really 
attached to the genial scrapegrace. Far on in the Georgian 
era, the House of Stuart, in spite of its sins and short- 
comings, was regarded with a degree of romantic reverence 


which seems both ridiculous and misplaced to-day, and 
Johnson, who shared this sentiment with other old-fashioned 
Jacobites, treated Topham Beauclerk with marked con- 
sideration, because, forsooth, the blood of Charles II. and 
Nell Gwynne ran in his veins. A fancied resemblance to 
the " merry monarch " completed the moralist's subjugation. 
Topham Beauclerk was one of the few men who ventured 
to maintain a dispute with Dr. Johnson, and apparently he 
did not always come off second best. Johnson's affection 
for him was so great that he declared, with a faltering voic^ 
when his friend lay dying, that he would walk to the 
" extent of the diameter of the earth to save Beauclerk." 

Oliver Goldsmith, that gentle-hearted, vain, bright, 
blundenng~~T^ild of genius, and Kdmimd pnrlrPj 
eloquent, stately, impassioned — the greatest thinker, in the 
judgment of Buckle, who ever devoted himself to English 
politics. Bacon alone excepted, and a man who took a wide 
and philosophic survey of every problem he discussed — 
were amongst the friends who now began to rally 
around Johnson. It was Burke's affluent and vigorous 
talk which made Johnson exclaim, **Sir, that fellow calls 
forth all my powers !" So greatly, indeed, was he impressed 
with Burke's commanding gifts, that he declared that if he 
went into a stable and began to talk with the ostlers, they 
would "venerate him as the wisest man they had ever 
seen." Sir Joshua^^eynolds,- the amiable painter, whose 
graceful brush shares with Boswell's garrulous pen the glory 
of having presented to all generations an inimitable portrait 
of the burly and outspoken moralist, whose massive figure 
still seems to haunt the narrow courts which descend into 
Fleet Street — a thoroughfare with which his name and fame 
are forever linked — ^was another of the intimate and 
endeared companions of Johnson's later London life. 


Last, but not least, comes James Boswell, whom somebody, 
in a fit of petulance, once~ca1ied-*^^eotch cur.*' "No, 
no," replied Goldsmith, who stood by, "he is not a Scotch 
cur ; he is merely a Scotch bur, Tom Davies threw him 
at Johnson in sport, and he has the faculty of sticking'^ 
Washington Irving called Boswell the incarnation of 
toadyism, and it is certain that he flattered Johnson to the 
top of his bent ; but he was neither a coxcomb nor a clown, 
and there was more to admire in the man than the con- 
stancy of his friendship, or his facility in taking notes; and, 
as Carlyle says, the " fact of his reverence for Johnson will 
ever remain noteworthy." Macaulay, with his fondness for 
dramatic contrasts, seeks to heighten the character of 
Johnson by pouring contempt on his biographer; but 
even he is compelled to admit that Boswell, who was a very 
small man, has beaten, in the region of biography, the 
greatest men who ever tried their hands at that difficult 

Bosw ell was twenty-three, and Johnso n fifty-five , when they 
first met in May 1736, in DavierSiet»ookseller's^Eop. The 
joung Scotch lawyer had a great hankering after personal 
introductions to eminent men, and not unnaturally he was 
extremely wishful to make the acquaintance of Johnson. 
He was drinking tea with the bookseller and his comely 
wife, when Johnson's shadow fell across the glass door which 
divided the shop from the parlour in which the little group 
was seated Davies, who had but recently retired from the 
boards, true to his histrionic instincts, "announced his 
awful approach somewhat in the manner of an actor in the 
part of Horatio, when he addresses Hamlet on the appear- 
ance of his father's ghost — 'Look, my lad; he comes.' '' 
Boswell, who knew Johnson's violent prejudice against the 
Scotch, forgetful of the fact that hi? own speech would 


immediately betray him, implored Davies, in a hurried aside^ 
not to mention where he came from. But Davies loved his 
joke too well to comply, and judged, moreover, like a 
sensible man, that it was best to take the bull by the hom% 
so "Mr. Boswell from Scotland" was duly presented 
Afraid that such an announcement would close the door 
to further parley, Boswell gasped out in apologetic tones — 
"Mr. Johnson, I do indeed come from Scotland — but I 
cannot help it ! " Instantly came the characteristic response^ 
'•That, sir, I find is what a very great many of your 
countrymen cannot help." From that day forward, for 
twenty years, Boswell followed Johnson about from place to 
place, watching his daily conduct, treasuring his chance 
remarks, eliciting his opinions, receiving his rebukes, and 
crowding the pages of his note-books with exact and 
picturesque details and racy sayings, which render the 
biography which he afterwards wrote a most realistic 
description of the man and his surroundings, as well 
as a perfect store-house of "wise saws and modem 

Of Boswell, indeed, when his theme is Johnson, 
it is not too much to say that "age cannot wither, 
nor custom stale, his infinite variety." From child- 
hood to old age, at work or play, in hours of boisterous 
mirth and in seasons of deep melancholy, at church, at 
home, in Fleet Street, or at the "Club;" when Burke's 
arguments called forth all his powers, Goldsmith's debts 
all his pity, or blind Mrs. Williams's fretfulness all his 
patience, James Boswell never fails to bring us face to face 
with the great "Sultan of English Literature," whom he 
dogged so persistently down the last twenty years of an 
ever-widening career. If Boswell sometimes irritated Dr. 
Johnson by his pointless remarks and shallow inquisitiveness. 


it must at least be owned that he eventually made band- 
some amends for his tiresome behaviour. Throughout his life> 
Boswell remained conspicuous for a certain mature puerility 
and this, to a man like Johnson, whosechar acl e r -'evary 
year which passed more deeply mellowed, must have proved 
exasperating in the extreme ; but, on the other hand, though 
at heart kindly, tender, and generous even to a fault, the 
sturdy but somewhat slovenly moralist was himself far from 
perfect, for he had a temper which flashed fire like a flint ; 
and in conversation he was positive, overbearing, and 
impatient of contradiction. 

Out of a friendship so unequal sprang in due time 
a biography as honest, sympathetic, and minute as ever 
was penned; a picture, in short, distinguished beyond all 
others by that perfect art which conceals itself. Boswell 
has made us all his debtors, for in his graphic pages 
Dr. Johnson lives and laughs, and walks and talks 
before us. Let it be granted once for all that the honest 
fellow, with his ridiculous family pride, childish vanity, and 
too palpable hero-worship, said and did many foolish things ; 
yet it would be wholly ungracious to pick a quarrel on that 
account with the patient listener who rescued Johnson's wise 
and witty table-talk from oblivion. Boswell has, in truth, 
immortalised himself by this performance; and it goes 
almost without the saying — so long as Don Quixote is 
remembered, Sancho Panza, most faithful of squires, will 
never be forgotten. 

When the Tory party obtained a renewal of power soon 
after the accession of George III., Johnson, who was a 
zealous champion of Church and State, was not neglected. 
The king, who was more favourably disposed to men of 
literary merit than either George I. or George IL, bestowed 
upon him — entirely unsought — ^a pension of three hundred 



pounds a-year. Johnson hesitated ; he was, in fact^ afraid 
that his acceptance might be regarded as a political bribe, 
and he was determined to be the tool of no government, 
and more especially of one which he held, in BoswelFs 
words, to be "founded in usurpation." Lord Bute, 
hoteever, removed his scruples by assuring him that it was 
conferred upon him, not for what he might yet do, but for 
at he had actually done. Satisfied that his independence 
as not imperilled, and that no political services were 
xpected from him, he gratefully accepted this opportune 
release from the burden of financial care, and for the next 
fifteen years, so far as his pen was concerned, he may 
(/almost be said to have obeyed to the letter the well-known 
piece of advice — " rest and be thankful." Time had toned 
down the fierce Jacobitism of his youth, and he said jocosely 
in his later years, "I cannot now curse the House of 
Hanover, but I think that the pleasure of cursing the House 
of Hanover, and drinking King James's health, are amply 
over-balanced by three hundred pounds a-year." It was 
soon after this happy escape from care that Boswell was 
introduced to him* under circumstances already described, 
and from that \xa[e forward, in the language of Macaula/s 
famous essay^" Johnson grown old, Johnson in the 
fulness of hi^ fame, and in the enjoyment of a competent 
fortune, is better known to us than any other man 
in history. Everything about him — ^his coat, his wift 
his figure, his face, his scrofula, his St. Vitus's dance^ 
his rolling walk, his blinking eye, the outward signs 
which too clearly marked his approbation of his dinner, 
his insatiable appetite for fish-sauce and veal-pie, his inex- 
tinguishable thirst for tea, his trick of touching the posts 
as he walked, his mysterious practice of treasuring up 
scraps of orange-peel, his morning slumbers, his niidnight 


disputations, his contortions, his mutierings, his gruntings, 
his puffings, his vigorous, acute, and ready eloquence. 
Jus sarcastic wit, his vehemence, his insolence, his fits of 
I tempestuous rage, his queer inmates, old Mr. Levett and 
blind Mrs. Williams, the cat Hodge, and the negro Frank- — 
all are as familiar to us as the objects by which we haveij 
been surrounded from childhood." ,y 

Set free from care, Johnson gtrejf^enial, and althouglil 
his temper was always quick, -and he was accustomed 
to call a spade a spade, and had no patience with 
sentimental grievances or "foppish lamentations," few 
raeti who ever lived were more ready to succour the 
distressed or uplift the fallen. " He loved the poor," 
relates Mrs. Piozzi, " as I never yet saw anyone else 
do, with an earnest desire to make them happy." In the 
sliarpest years of his own poverty, he would thrust pence 
into the hands of sleeping children whom he passed in his 
dreary midnight rambles about town, in order that when 
dawn awakened them from their uneasy slumbers on the 
cold steps of warehouse or mansion, tbey at least might be 
able to buy themselves a morsel of bread. He endured 
with pitying forbearance the querulous complaints of the 
maimed and helpless folk who, with no other claim 

BQ him than their dire need, had found an asylum in 
nise, which they darkened with their discontent. 
feotild tenderly uplift the poor, famished outcast of 
■beets, and bear her gently on his own shoulders 
Be shelter of his home. Chesterfield's politeness — it 
IS rot too much to say — shrivels into contempt in the 
presence of Johnson's compassion. He might not be 

K' bow as gracefully to the rich, but his generous 
had taught him to stoop to the poor. Lord 
leek, with a sneer, called Johnson " Ursa Major ; " 


but Goldsmith, who had tested in his own straits the 
practical kindliness of his nature, declared that there was 
** nothing of the bear about him but the skin." Roughness 
of speech and outbursts of temper, these were the flaws 
in a noble character, which carried all its blemishes on the 
surface. Johnson knew his faults, and deeply deplored 
them ; and when he lay dying, they weighed upon a soul 
which had carried a childlike sensitiveness to right and 
wrong through the storms, the struggles, the temptations, 
and the toils of more than three score years and ten. 
But not less beautiful than just was the tender comment of 
Edmund Burke — " It is well if, when a man comes to die^ 
he has nothing heavier upon his conscience than having 
been a little rough in his conversation." 

The closing decades of Dr. Johnson's life were marked 
by public honour, private friendship, congenial leisure, and 
happy associations. To him "a tavern chair was the 
throne of human felicity ; " and he held that the man who 
was tired of London was tired of life. By the fireside of 
the Mitre, affable with and accessible to all, Johnson spent 
many an hour in animated discussion. At the Literary 
Club — ^which he himself founded in 1764, at the Turk's 
Head, in Gerrard Street, Soho — Reynolds arid Burke, Gold- 
smith and Langton, gathered around him, and drew forth 
the affluence of his talk. His friendship with Mr. and Mrs. 
Thrale was another source of gladness to him, though his 
closing days were darkened by the death of the former, and 
by the desertion of the latter, and the house at Streatham, 
which had once been to him a second home, thus closed 
its gates upon his declining years. The tour which he- 
made in Scotlan d^ with Bos^ rrll jn T773f "^^ ^is journey to 
the Western Islands in 1775, were the chief outward 
incidents of his old age. Death began to make many 


inroads on his friendships, though, like a wise man, he 
sought to keep them in repair. 

In 1779 he published the first four volumes of The 
Lives of the PoetSy and two years later he finished his 
literary labours vdth another six volumes of the Lives. 
During the closing years of his career, according to 
Boswell, " he seemed to be a kind of public oracle, whom 
everybody thought they had a right to visit and consult; 
and, doubtless, they were well rewarded." He rose late, 
^'declaimed all the morning/' dined at a tavern, drank tea at 
a friend's house, " over which he loitered a great while," 
spent his evenings in company, and read and wrote far on 
into the night " He walked the streets at all hours, and said 
he was never robbed, for the rogues knew that he had little 
money, nor had he the appearance of having much." Mrs. 
Piozzi states that " it was never against people of coarse 
life that his contempt was expressed, while poverty of sen- 
timent in men who considered themselves to be company 
far the parhur, as he called it, was what he would not bear." 
Death, which he had always feared, came gently to him at 
last, and he met it with the faith and fortitude of a sincere 
but humble-minded Christian. His last words had no 
roughness in them. "God bless you, my dear," came 
fiiintly to a young lady, the daughter of an old friend, who 
kneeled reverently for a final benediction by his bed. 

Thus ended in victorious peace, on the 13th of December 
1784, the life of Samuel Johnson. He found an appro* 
priate grave in Westminster Abbey, and a statue in the 
nave of St Paul's Cathedral was also reared in his honour. 
If his prejudices were stubborn, his principles were of 
adamant; if his temper was capricious, his heart was 
tender; if he failed sometimes to observe those little 
courtesies of life, the neglect of which in some circles 


seems to constitute the unpardonable sin, he kept with 
brave fidelity the weightier matters of the law, and 
reverenced his conscience as his king. 

The poetry of Johnson has been overshadowed by his 
prose, but its quality and scope ought to shield it from the 
cheap dismissal which it usually receives. Like all his 
other work, it is unequal, and its prevailing tone is too 
didactic; in style and pomp of diction it suggests the 
school of Pope, but in vigour and veracity of sentiment 
it reflects the moral majesty of its author's character. 
The prose of Johnson, though always distinguished by 
stately imagery, masculine common-sense, philosophic in- 
sight, and a touch of subtle humour, was somewhat turgid 
and grandiloquent in earlier life ; this fault had, to a large 
extent, vanished when the Rambler appeared; the IdHxf 
in turn was brighter and less formal ; and the Lives of th^ 
Poets^ written in old age, in spite of the occasional unjust- 
nes^of the strictures they contain, show, in their blended 
cmicism and biography, the hand of Johnson at its best 
/Dr. Johnson himself was greater than anything whid^ 
y^e accomplished^and perhaps it is to his ^miliar saying^ 
that we must turn for the most vivid illustration of thoS^ 
noble and exalted qualities of mind and heart which tclcX 
in him, and which constitute his abiding claim to ttJ^ 
gratitude, reverence, and affection of succeeding generation^ 
So long, indeed, as the world continues to render homage tA^ 
valiant and generous natures in which virtue and genii^* 
blend in noble union, " deep in the common heart," tl*^ 
power of Samuel Johnson will survive. 





WELL gives the following account of the origin of the Rambler:'^ 
1750 Johnson came forth in the character for which he was 
ently qualified — a majestick teacher of moral and religious wisdom, 
vehicle which he chose was that of a periodical paper, which ho 
r had been, upon former occasions, employed with great success. 
Toiler^ Spectator^ and Guardian were the last of the kind pub* 
i in England which had stood the test of a long trial ; and such 
iterval had now elapsed since their publication as made him 
J think that, to many of his readers, this form of instruction would, 
me degree, have the advantage of novelty." — (Hill's Boswell's Lift 
^hnsoHy vol. i., 201.) Dr. Johnson told Sir Joshua Reynoldar that 
It at a loss how to name the new venture : — " I sat down at night 
my bedside, and resolved that I would not go to sleep until I 
ixed its title. The Rambler seemed the best that occurred, and 
3k it.'' The period which had elapsed since Addison and Steele 
:eased to charm mankind with their essays was certainly long enough 
ive gathered a new audience for the first and greatest of their 
tssors. The Toiler ended on the 2nd of January 1 710- 1 1 ; the 
series of the Spectator on the 6th of December 1712 ; the Guardian 
tie ist of October 1713 ; and the second series of the spectator on 
20th of December 1714. The first number of the Rambler was 
ished on Tuesday, the 20th of March 1750, and it appeared 



regularly twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdajrs, until Saturday the 
14th of March 1752, when the publication came to an end through the 
deep sorrow which fell across Johnson's life in the death of his wife. 
With the exception of five essays, those numbered ten, thirty, forty-four, 
ninety-seven, and one hundred, all the papers were written by Johnson 
himself, and often at a white heat. Cave, the publisher, used to 
say that copy was seldom sent to the press till late in the night before 
the day of publication, and this, of course, was a much more serious 
embarrassment to the printer before the age of steam t It will be found 
that the notes are chiefly snatches from Dr. Johnson's conversatioii, 
which serve to cast side-lights on many of the themes discussed in the 


Saturday, March 24, 1749-50. 

*' stare loco nescii, pereuni vestigia miUe 
Aniefugam^ absentetnqueferit gravis unguld campum,* 



" Th' impatient courser pants in every vein. 
And pawing seems to beat the distant plain ; 
Hills, vales, and floods appear already crost, 
And ere he starts, a thousand steps are lost" Pope. 

TTHAT the mind of man is never satisfied with the objects 
-^ immediately before it^ but is always breaking away 
from the present moment, and losing itself in schemes of 
future felicity; and that we forget the proper use of the 
time now in our power, to provide for the enjoyment q£ 
that which, perhaps, may never be granted us, has been 
frequently remarked ; and as this practice is a commodious 
subject of raillery to the gay, and of declamation to the 
serious, it has been ridiculed with all the pleasantry o[ wit^ 


and exa^erated with all the amphfications of rhetorick. 
Every instance, by which its absurdity might appear most 
flagrant, has been studiously collected ; it has been marked 
with every epithet of contempt, and all the tropes and 
figures have been called forth against it. 

Censure is willingly indulged, because it always implies ■' 
some superiority; men please themselves with imagining 
that they have made a deeper search, or wider survey, than 
others, and detected faults and follies, which escape vulgar 
observation. And the pleasure of wantoning in common 
topicks is so tempting to a writer, that he cannot easily 
resign it ; a train of sentiments generally received enables 
him to shine without labour, and to conquer without a 
contest It is so easy to laugh at the foily of him who - 
lives only in idea, refuses immediate ease for distant 
pleasures, and, instead of enjoying the blessings of life, lets 
life glide away in preparations to enjoy them ; it affords 
such opportunities of triumphant exultation, to exemplify 
the uncertainty of the human state, to rouse mortals from 
their dream, and inform them of the silent celerity of time, 
thai we may believe authors willing rather to transmit than 
examine so advantageous a principle, and more inclined to 
pursue a track so smooth and so flowery, than attentively to 
consider whether it leads to truth, 
/rtus quahty of looking forward into futurity, seems the 
unavoidable condition of a being, whose motions are 
gradual, and whose life is progressive : as hts powers are 
limited, he must use means for the attainment of his ends, 
ftnd intend first what he performs last; as by continual 
advances from his first stage of existence, he is perpetually 
varying the horizon of his prospects, he must always dis- 
cover new motives of action, new excitements of fear, 
and allurements of desire. / 


The end therefore which at present calls forth our 
//eflforts, will be found, when it is once gained, to be only 
//one of the means to some remoter end. The natural 
f/j flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to 
( 1 pleasure, but from hope to hop^^ 
. He that directs his steps to a certain point, most 
frequently turn his eyes to that place which he strives to 
reach ; he that undergoes the fatigue of labour must solace 
his weariness with the contemplation of its reward. In 
agriculture, one of the most simple and necessary employ- 
ments, no man turns up the ground but because he thinks 
of the harvest, that harvest which blights may intercept^ 
which inundations may sweep away, or which death or 
famity may hinder him from reaping. 
Yet as few maxims are widely received or long retained 
but for some conformity with truth and nature, it must be 
confessed, that this caution against keeping our view too 
intent upon remote advantages is not without its propriety 
or usefulness, though it may have been recited with too 
much levity, or enforced with too little distinction : for not 
to speak of that vehemence of desire which presses through 
right and wrong to its gratification, or that anxious 
inquietude which is justly chargeable with distrust of 
heaven, subjects too solemn for my present purpose; it 
frequently happens that, by indulging early the raptures of 
success, we forget the measures necessary to secure it, and 
suffer the imagination to riot in the fruition of some 
possible good, till the time of obtaining it has slipped 

/ There would, however, be few enterprizes of great labour 

^^^jDr-4iazard undertaken, if we had not the power of magni- 

^--^fying the advantages which we persuade ourselves to expect 

from them. When the-Jmght of La-Mancha graved 


recounts to his companion the adventures by which he is to 
signalize himself in such a manner that he shall be sum- 
moned to the support of empires, solicitude to accept the 
heiress of the crown which he has preserved, have honours 
and riches to scatter about him, and an island to bestow on 
his worthy squire, very few readers, amidst their mirth or 
pity, can deny that they have admitted visions of the same ^-^^^^^^ 
kind; though they have not, perhaps, expected events 
equally strange, or by means equally inadequate. When - \-t 
we pity him, we reflect on our own disappointments ; and 
when we laugh, our hearts inform us that he is not more 
ridiculous than ourselves, except that he tells what we have 
only thought 

The understanding of a man naturally sanguine, may, 
indeed, be easily vitiated by the luxurious indulgence of 
hope, however necessary to the production of every thing 
great or excellent, as some plants are destroyed by too 
open exposure to that sun which gives life and beauty to 
the vegetable world. 

Perhaps no class of the human species requires more to 
be cautioned against this anticipation of happiness, than ^ 
those that aspire to the name of authors. A man of lively 
fimcy no sooner finds a hint moving in his mind, than he 
makes momentaneous excursions to the press, and to the 
world, and, with a little encouragement from flattery, pushes 
forward into future ages, and prognosticates the honours 
to be paid him, when envy is extinct, and faction forgotten, 
and those, whom partiality now suflers to obscure him, 
shall have given way to the triflers of as short duration as 

Those who have proceeded so far as to appeal to the 
tribunal of succeeding times, are not likely to be cured of 
tiieir infatuation ; but all endeavours ought to be M^td. lot 


the prevention of a disease, for which, when it J** attained 
its height, perhaps no remedy will be foun<^ Ui Ite "g^eos 
of philosophy, however she may boast bar phyind^ of Sift 
mind, her catharticks of vice, or lenitives of passion. 

I shall, therefore, while I am yet but lightly touched 
with the symptoms of the writer's malady, endeavour to 
fortify myself against the infection, not without some weak 
hope that my preservatives may extend their virtues to 
others, whose employment exposes them to the same 


Laudis amore fumes f Sunt certa piacuia^ qua U 
Terpure lecto poteruni recreare libello.V 

" Is fame your passion ? Wisdom's powerfiil charm. 
If thrice read over, shall its force disarm." F&ANdS. 

It is the sage advice of Epictetus, that a man should 
accustom himself often to think of what is most shocking 
and terrible, that by such reflections he may be preserved 
from too ardent wishes for seeming good, and from too 
much dejection in real evil. 

There is nothing more dreadful to an author than 
lieglect; compared with which, reproach, hatred, anS 
opposition, are names of happiness; yet this wors^ this 
meanest fate, every one who dares to write has reason to 

**Inune, et versus tecum meditare canorosJ* 


Go now, and meditate thy tuneful lays." Elphinstoh. 

It may not be unfit for him who makes a new entrance 

CInto the lettered world, so far to suspect his own powers, as 
to believe that he possibly may deserve neglect; ^t nature 
may not have qualified him much to enlarge or embellish 
knowledge, nor sent him forth entitled by indisputable 


^h^eriority to regulaie the conduct of the rest of mankind; 
that, inough the world must be granted to be yet in 
ignorance, he is not destined to dispel the cloud, nor to 
shine out as one of the luminaries of life. For this 
suspicion, every catalogue of a library will furnish sufficient 
reason ; as he wiU find it crowded with names of men who, 
though now forgotten, were once no less enterprising or 
confident than himself, equally pleased with their own 
productions, equally caressed by theic patrons, and flattered 
by their friends. 

But though it should happen that an author is capable of 
excelling, yet his merit may pass without notice, huddled in 
the variety of things, and thrown into the general miscellany 
of life. He that endeavours after fame by writing, soUdts 
the regard of a multitude, fluctuating in pleasures or 
immersed in business, without time for intellectual amuse- 
ments ; be appeals to judges, prepossessed by passions, or 
corrupted by prejudices, which preclude their approbation 
of any new performance. Some are too indolent to read 
anything till its reputation is established ; others too envious 
to promote that fame which gives them pain by its increase; 
What is new is opposed, because most are unwilling to be 
l anghti an d what is known is rejected, ^feecause it is not 
sufficiently coiTBideicd -tbat-memnqre frequently require to 
be reminded than informed. The learned are afraid to 
declare their opinion early, lest they "should put their 
reputation in hazard ; thejgnorant always imagine them- 
selves giving some proof of delicacy, when they refuse to be 
pleased ; and he that finds his way to reputation through all 
these obstructions, must acknowledge that he is indebted to 
Other causes besides his industry, his learning or his wit. 


Tuesday y March 27, 1750. 

" Virtus, repulses nescia sordida^ 
Intaminatis fulget honoribus^ 
Nee sumit autponit secures 
Arbitriopopularisaura" HOB. 

** Undisappointed in designs, 
With native honours virtue shines ; 
Nor takes up pow'r, nor lays it down, 
As giddy rabbles smile or frown. *' Elphinston. 

T^HE task of an author is, either to teach what is not 
■■' known, or to recommend known truths by his manner 
of adorning them ; either to let new light in upon the mmd, 
and open new scenes to the prospect, or to vary the dress 
and sitiiation of common objects, so as to give them fresh 
grace and more powerful attractions, to spread such flowers 
over the regions through which the intellect has already made 
its progress, as may tempt it to return, and take a second view 
of things hastily passed over, or negligently regarded 

Either of these labours is very difficult, because that they 
may not be fruitless, men must not only be persuaded of 
their errours, but reconciled to their guide ; they must not 
only confess their ignorance, but, what is still less pleasing^ 
must allow that he from whom they are to learn is more 
knowing than themselves. 

It might be imagined that such an employment was in 
itself sufficiently irksome and hazardous ; that none would 
be found so malevolent as wantonly to add weight to the 
stone of Sisyphus ; and that few endeavours would be used 
to obstruct those advances to reputation, which must be 


uch an expense of time and thought, with so great 
the miscarriage, and with so little advantage from 


Te is a certain race of men, that either imagine 
ity, or make it their amusement, to hinder the 
of every work of learning or genius, who stand as 
in the avenues of fame, and value themselves 
ng Ignorance and Envy the first notice of a 

e men who distinguish themselves by the appella- 
axiCKS, it is necessary for a new author to find 
ns of recommendation. It is probable, that the 
gnant of these persecutors might be somewhat 
ind prevailed on, for a short time, to remit their 
ving for this piurpose considered many expedients, 
he records of ancient times, that Argus was lulled 
:, and Cerberus quieted with a sop; and am, 
inclined to believe that modern criticks, who, if 
not the eyes, have the watchfulness of Argus, 
)ark as loud as Cerberus, though, perhaps, they 
e with equal force, might be subdued by methods 
me kind. I have heard how some have been 
rith claret and a supper, and others laid asleep 
)ft notes of flattery. 

the nature of my undertaking gives me sufficient 
dread the united attacks of this virulent genera- 
have not hitherto persuaded myself to take any 
for flight or treaty. For I am in doubt whether 
ct against me by lawful authority, and suspect that 
presumed upon a forged commission, stiled them- 
ministers of CRiTiasM, without any authentick 
f delegation, and uttered their own determinations 
rees of a higher judicature. 

Criticism,* from whom they derive their cliiim to decidd 
the fate of writers, was the eldest daughter of Labour and' 
Truth : she was, at her birth, committed to the care of 
Justice, and brought up by her in the palace of Wisdom. 
Being soon distinguished by the celestials, for her un- 
common qualities, she was appointed the governess of 
Fancy, and empowered to beat time to the chorus of the 
Muses, when they sung before the throne of Jupiter. 

When the Muses condescended to visit this 
world, they came accompanied by Criticism, to whonv 
upon her descent from her native regions, Justice gai 
a sceptre, to be carried aloft in her right hand, one en^ 
of which was tinctured with ambrosia, and inwreathed 
with a golden foliage of amaranths and bays; the Other 
end was encircled with cypress and poppies, and dipped iii' 
the waters of oblivion. In her left hand she bore an 
unextinguishable torch, manufactured by Labour, and 
lighted by Truth, of whicli it was the particular quali^ 
immediately to show everything in its true form, howevff 
it might be disguised to common eyes. Whatever ART 
could complicate, or Folly could confound, was, upon 
the first gleam of the Torch of Truth, exhibited in iB 
distinct parts and original simplicity; it darted throagli 
the labyrinths of sophistry, and showed at once all the 
absurdities to which they served for refuge; it pierced 
through the robes which rhetorick often sold to felse- 
hood, and detected the disproportion of parts whicll 
artificial veils had been contrived to cover. 

Thus furnished for the execution of her office, Chti*' 
CisM came down to survey the performances of fboei 
who professed themselves the votaries of the Mdse4 

* Note 1., AppenJia. 


Whatever was brought before her, she beheld by the steady 
light of the Torch of Truth, and when her examination 
had convinced her, that the laws of just writing had been 
observed, she touched it with the amaranthine end of the 
sceptre, and consigned it over to immortaUty. 

But it more frequently happened, that in the works 
which required her inspection, there was some imposture 
attempted; that false colours were laboriously laid; that 
some secret inequality was found between the words and 
sentiments, or some dissimilitude of the ideas and the 
m^nal objects; that incongruities were linked together, 
or that some parts were of no Use but to enlace the 
appearance of the whole, without contributing to its 
beauty, solidity, or usefulness. 

Wherever such discoveries were made, and they were 
made whenever these faults were committed, Criticism 
refused the touch which conferred the sanction of immor- 
tality, and, when the errours were frequent and gross, 
reversed the sceptre, and let drops of lethe distil from 
the poppies and cypress a fatal mildew, which immediately 
begun to waste the work away, till it was at last totally 

There were some compositions brought to the test, in 
which, when the strongest light was thrown upon them, 
tfieir beauties and faults appeared so equally mingled, that 
Cwticism stood with her sceptre poised in her hand, in 
doubt whether to shed lethe, or ambrosia, upon thera, 
These at last increased to so great a number, thai she 
Wb weary of attending such doubtful claims, and, for 
few of using improperly the sceptre of Justice, referred 
ft* cause to be considered by Time. 

The proceedings of Time, though very dilatory, were, 
•wae few caprices excepted, conformable W \'as\iw, aiA 


many who thought themselves secure by a short forbear- 
ance, have sunk under his scythe, as they were 
posting down with their volumes in triumph to futurity. 
It was observable that some were destroyed by little and 
little, and others crushed for ever by a single blow. 

Criticism having long kept her eye fixed steadily upon 
Time, was at last so well satisfied with his conduct, that she 
withdrew from the earth with her patroness Astrea, and 
left Prejudice and False Taste to ravage at large as the 
associates of Fraud and Mischief; contenting herself 
thenceforth to shed her influence from afar upon some 
select minds, fitted for its reception by learning and by 

Before her departure she broke her sceptre, of which the 
shivers, that formed the ambrosial end, yfere caught up by 
Flattery, and those that had been infected with the 
waters of lethe were, with equal haste, seized by Malevo- 
lence. The followers of Flattery, to whom she dis- 
tributed her part of the sceptre, neither had nor desired 
light, but touched indiscriminately whatever Power or 
Interest happened to exhibit. The companions of 
Malevolence were supplied by the Furies with a 
torch, which had this quality peculiar to infernal lustre^ 
that its light fell only upon faults. 

*' No light, but rather darkness visible, 
Serv'd only to discover sights of woe." 

With these fragments of authority, the slaves of 
Flattery and Malevolence marched out, at the com- 
mand of their mistresses, to confer immortality, or condemn 
to oblivion. But this sceptre had now lost its power ; and 
Time passes his sentence at leisure, without any regard to 
their determinations. 

Saturday, March 31, 1750, 

" Simul It jumnJa el id<mea dicere vtlie." Hok. 

" And join both profit and delight m one." Crebch. 

'T'HE works of fiction, with which the present generation 
-^ seems more particularly delighted, are such as exhibit 
life in its true state, diversified only hy accidents that daily 
happen in the world, and influenced by passions and 
qualities which are really to be found in conversing with 

This kind of writing may be termed not improperly the 
comedy of romance, and is to be conducted nearly by the 
rules of comick poetry. Its province is to bring about 
natural events by easy means, and to keep up curiosity 
wilhoui ihe help of wonder r it is therefore precluded from 
the machines and expedients of the heroick romance, and 
can neither employ giants to snatch away a lady from the 
nuptial rites, nor knights to bring her back from captivity ; 
it can neither bewilder its personages in deserts, nor lodge 
them in imaginary castles. 

1 remember a remark made by Scaliger upon Poni..4ius, 
that all his writings are filled with the same images ; and 
that if you take from him his lilies and his roses, his satyrs 
■nd his diyads, he will have nothing left that can be called 
poetty. Ill like manner almost all the fictions of the last 
•gB will vanish, if you deprive them of a hermit and a wood, 
a battle snd a shipwreck. 

^Vhy this wild strain of imagination found reception SO 


1 polite and learned ages, it Is not easy to conceive 3 
but we cannot wonder that while readers could be pro 
cured, the authors were willing to continue it; for when ftl 
I had hy practice gained some fluency of language^ he • 
had no further care than to reiire to his closet, let loose his 
invention, and heat his mind with incredibilities ; a boot | 
was thus produced without fear of criticism, without the toil O 
study, without knowledge of nature, or acquaintance with lift 

The task of our present writers is very different j it 
requires, together with that learning which is to be gained 
from books, that experience which caji never be attained by 
solitary diligence, but must arise from general converse ai 
accurate observation of the living world. Their pe^ 
formances have, as Horace expresses it, plus onerii guantunt 
venia minus, littie indulgence, and therefore more difficult.. 
They are engaged in portraits of which every one knows the 
original, and can detect any deviation from exactness of 
resemblance. Other writings are safe, except from the 
malice of learning, but these are m danger from eveay 
common reader ; as the slipper ill executed was censured \if 
a shoemaker who happened to stop in his way at the Veinit 
of Apeiles. 

Eut the fear of not being approved as just copiers ( 
human manners, is not the most important concern that aa 
author of this sort ought to have before him. These books 
are written chiefly to the young, the ignorant, and the idl^ 
to whom they serve as lectures of conduct, and intro- 
ductions into life. They are the entertainment of mindi' 
unfurnished with ideas, and therefore easily susceptible € 
impressions ; not fixed by principles, and therefore easil;^ 
following the current of fancy ; not informed by experience, 
and consequently open to every false suggestion and partial 


That the highest degree of reverence should be paid to 
youth, and that nothing indecent should be suffered to 
approach their eyes or ears, are precepts extorted by sense 
and virtue from an ancient writer, by no means eminent for 
chastit>' of thought. The same kind, though not the same 
decree of caution, is required in every thing which is laid 
before them, to secure them from unjust prejudices, 
perverse opinions, and incongruous combinations of 

In the romances formerly written, every transaction and 
sentiinent was so remote from all that passes among men, 
that the reader was in very little danger of making any 
applications to himself; the vhtues and crimes were equally 
beyond his sphere of activity ; and he amused himself with 
heroes and with traitors, deliverers and persecutors, as with 
beings of another species, whose actions were regulated 
upon motives of their own, and who had neither faults nor 
excellencies in common with himself. 

But when an adventurer is levelled with the rest of the 
trortd, and acts in such scenes of the universal drama, as 
may be ihe lot of any other man ; young spectators fix their 
e)'ea upon him with closer attention, and hope, by observing 
his behaviour and success, to regulate their own practices, 
when they shall be engaged in the Uke part. 

For this reason, these familiar histories may perhaps be 
made of greater use than the solemnities of professed 
morality, and convey the knowledge of vice and virtue with 
more efficacy than axioms and definitions. But if the 
power of example is so great as to take possession of the 
memory by a kind of violence, and produce effects almost 
wilhout the intervention of the will, care ought lo be taken, 
that, when the choice is unrestrained, the best examples 
only should be exhibited ; and that which is likely to 



operate so strongly, should .not be mischievous or uncertain 
in its effects. 

The chief advantage which these fictions have over real 
life is, that their authors are at liberty, though not to invent, 
yet to select objects, and to cull from the mass of mankind, 
those individuals upon which the attention ought most to be 
employed : as a diamond, though it cannot be made, may 
be polished by art, and placed in such a situation, as to 
display that lustre which before was buried among conmiOD 

It is justly considered as the greatest excellency of art, to 
imitate nature ; but it is necessary to distinguish those parts 
of nature, which are most proper for imitation : greater care 
is still required in representing life, which is so often 
discoloured by passion, or deformed by wickedness. If the 
world be promiscuously described, I cannot see of what use 
it can be to read the account : or why it may not be as safe 
to turn the eye immediately upon mankind as upon a minor 
which shows all that presents itself without discrimination. 

It is, therefore, not a sufficient vindication of a character, 
that it is drawn as it appears ; for many characters ought 
never to be drawn : nor of a narrative, that the train of 
events is agreeable to observation and experience ; for that 
observation which is called knowledge of the world, will be 
found much more firequently to make men cunning than 
good. The purpose of these writings is surely not only to 
show mankind, but to provide that they may be seen 
hereafter with less hazard ; to teach the means of avoidiiig 
the snares which are laid by Treachery for iNNOCENCiBy 
without infusing any wish for that superiority with which the 
betrayer flatters his vanity; to give the power of counte^ 
acting fraud, without the temptation to practise it; to 
initiate youth by mock encounters in the art of necessarj 

defence, and to increase prudence without 

Many writers, for the sake of following nature, so mingle 
good and bad qualities in their principal personages, that 
they are both equally conspicuous ; and as we accompany 
them through their adventures with delight, and are led by 
degrees to interest ourselves in their favour, we lose the 
abhorrence of their faults, because they do not hinder our 
pleasure, or, perhaps, regard thena with some kindness, for 
being united with so much merit. 

There have been men indeed splendidly wicked, whose 
endowments threw a brightness on their crimes, and whom 
scarce any villany made perfectly detestable, because they 
ne%'er could be wholly divested of their excellencies ; but 
such have been in all ages the great cOrruptere of the world, 
and their resemblance ought no more to be preserved than 
the art of murdering without pain. 

Some have advanced, without due attention to the con- 
sequences of this notion, that certain virtues have their 
correspondent faults, and therefore that to exhibit either 
apart is to deviate from probability. Thus men are observed 
by Swift to be "grateful in the same degree as they are 
resentful" This principle, with others of the same kind, 
supposes man to act from a brute impulse, and pursue a 
certain degree of inclination, without any choice of the 
object; for, otherwise, though it should be allowed that 
gratitude and resentment arise from the same constitudon 
of the passions, it follows not that they will be equally 
indulged when reason is consulted ; yet, unless that con- 
sequence be admitted, this sagacious maxim becomes an 
empty sound, without any relation to practice or to life. 

Nor is it evident, tliat even the first motions lo these 
effects are always in the same proportion. For ^jtvdes 


which produces quickness of resentment, will obstruct 
gratitude, by unwillingness to admit that inferiority which 
obligation implies ; and it is very unlikely that he who cannot 
think he receives a favour, will acknowledge or repay it 

It is of the utmost importance to mankind, that positions 
of this tendency should be laid open and confuted; for 
while men consider good and evil as springing from the 
same root, they will spare the one for the sake of the other, 
and in judging, if not of others, at least of themselves, wiU 
be apt to estimate their virtues by their vices. To this 
fatal errour all those will contribute, who confound the 
colours of right and wrong, and, instead of helping to settle 
their boundaries, mix them with so much art, that no 
common mind is able to disunite them. 

In narratives where historical veracity has no place, I 
cannot discover why there should not be exhibited the most 
perfect idea of virtue \ of virtue not angelical, nor above 
probabihty, for what we cannot credit, we shall never 
imitate, but the highest and purest that humanity can 
reach, which, exercised in such trials as the various 
revolutions of things shall bring upon it, may, by conquering 
some calamities, and enduring others, teach us what we 
may hope, and what we can perform. Vice, for vice is 
necessary to be shown, should always disgust ; nor should 
the graces of gaiety, or the dignity of courage, be so united 
with it, as to reconcile it to the mind. Wherever it appears, 
it should raise hatred by the malignity of its piacticesj 
and contempt by the meanness of its stratagems: for 
while it is supported by either parts or spirit, it will be 
seldom heartily abhorred. The Roman tyrant was content 
to be hated, if he was but feared ; and there are thousands 
of the readers of romances willing to be thought wicked^ 
if they may be allowed to be wits. It is therefore to be 


Readily inculcated, that virtue is the highest proof of 
Understanding, and the only solid basis of greatness ; and 
that vice is the natural consequence of narrow thoughts ; 
that it begins in mistake, and ends in ignominy. 

Tuesday, April 2 \, 1750. 

** Non Dindymene, n<m adytis quaiit 
Mentem sacerdotum incola Pytkius^ 
Non Liber aquty non acuta 
Sic geminant Corybantes cera, 
Tristes ut ires. '* HOR. 

" Yet O ! remember, nor the god of wine. 
Nor Pythian Phabus from his inmost shrine, 
Nor Dindymene^ nor her priests possest, 
Can with their sounding cymbals shake the breast, 
Idke furious anger." Francis. 

T^HE maxim which Periander of Corinth, one of the 
"^ seven sages of Greece, left as a memorial of his 
knowledge and benevolence, was }^\% Kgarct, Be master of 
thy anger. He considered anger as the great disturber of 
human life, the chief enemy both of publick happiness and 
private tranquillity, and thought that he could not lay on 
posterity a stronger obligation to reverence his memory^ 
than by leaving them a salutary caution against this 
outrageous passion. 

To what latitude Periander might extend the word, the 
brevity of his precept will scarce allow us to conjecture. 
From anger, in its full import, protracted into malevolence, 
and exerted in revenge, arise, indeed, many of the evils to 
which the life of man is exposed. By anger operating upon 


power are produced the subversion of cities, the desolatioi=r 
of countries, the massacre of nations, and all those dreadfti — 
and astonishing calamities which fill the histories of th^ 
world, and which could not be read at any distant point o:^ 
time, when the passions stand neutral, and every motive ancf 
principle is left to its natural force, without some doubt of 
the truth of the relation, did we not see the same causes 
still tending to the same effects, and only acting with less 
vigour for want of the same concurrent opportunities. 

But this gigantick and enormous species of anger falls 
not properly under the animadversion of a writer, whose 
chief end is the regulation of common life, and whose 
precepts are to recommend themselves by their general use. 
Nor is this essay intended to expose the tragical or fetal 
effects even of private malignity. The anger which I 
propose now for my subject, is such as makes those who 
indulge it more troublesome than formidable, and ranks 
them rather with hornets and wasps, than with basilisks and 
lions. I have, therefore, prefixed a motto, which charac- 
terises this passion, not so much by the mischief that it 
causes, as by the noise that it utters. 

There is in the world a certain class of mortals,' known, 
and contentedly known, by the appellation oi passionate meity 
who imagine themselves entitled by that distinction to be 
provoked on every slight occasion, and to vent their rage 
in vehement and fierce vociferations, in furious menaces 
and licentious reproaches. Their rage, indeed, for the most 
part, fumes away in outcries of injury, and protestations of 
vengeance, and seldom proceeds to actual violence, unless a 
drawer or linkboy falls in their way ; but they interrupt the 
quiet of those that happen to be within the reach of their 
clamours, obstruct the course of conversation, and disturb 
the enjoyment of society. 


Men of this kind are sometimes not without under- 
sanding or virtue, and are, therefore, not always treated 
with the severity which their neglect of the ease of all about 
Uiem might justly provoke ; they have obtained a kmd of 
prescription for their folly, and are considered by their 
companions as under a predominant influence that leaves 
them not masters of their conduct or language, as acting 
irithout consciousness, and rushing into mischief with a mist 
before their eyes ; they are therefore pitied rather than 
censured, and their sallies are passed over as the involuntary 
blows of a man agitated by the spasms of a convulsion. 

It is surely not to be observed without indignation that 
men may be found of minds mean enough to be satisfied 
with this treatment ; wretches who are proud to obtain the 
privilege of madmen, and can, without shame, and without 
regret, consider themselves as receiving hourly pardons irom 
their companions, and giving them continual opportunities 
of exercising their patience, and boasting their clemency. 

Pride is undoubtedly the original of anger; but pride, 
liie every other passion, if it once breaks loose from 
reason, counteracts its own purposes. A passionate man 
upon the review of his day, will have very few gratifications 
to offer to his pride, when he has considered how his 
outrages were caused, why they were borne, and in what 
they are likely to end at last. 

Those sudden bursts of rage generally break out upon 
small occasions ; for life, unhappy as it is, cannot supply 
^nrnt evib as frequently as the man of fire thinks it fit to be 
^^^Ka^cd ; therefore the first reflection upon his violence must 
^^Pdw him that he is mean enough to be driven from his post 
^ey every petty incident, that he is the mere slave of casualty, 
and that his reason and virtue are in the power of the wind. 
One motive there is of these loud extravagancies, which 


. man is careful to conceal from others, and does not 
always discover to himself. He that finds his knowledge 
narrow, and his arguments weak, and by consequence his 
suffrage not much regarded, is sometimes in hope of 
gaining that attention by his clamours which he cannot 
otherwise obtain, and is pleased with remembering that at 
least he made himself heard, that he had the power to 
interrupt those whom he could not confute^ and suspend 
the decision which he could not guide. 

Of this kind is the fury to which many men giye 
among their servants and domesticks ; they feel their 
ignorance, they see their own insignificance ; and 
they endeavour, by their fury, to fright away contempt 
before them, when they know it must follow them behind 
and think themselves eminently masters, when they see 
folly tamely complied with, only lest refusal or delay si 
provoke them to a greater. 

These temptations cannot but be owned to have som -^* 
force. It is so little pleasing to any man to see himse^V^ 
wholly overlooked in the mass of things, that he may \>^* 
allowed to try a few expedients for procuring some kind 
supplemental dignity, and use some endeavour to ad< 
weight, by the violence of his temper, to the lightness of 
other powers. But this has now been long practised, an- 
found, upon the most exact estimate, not to prodw 
advantages equal to its inconveniencies \ for it appears n( 
that a man can by uproar, tumult, and bluster, alter 
one's opinion of his understanding, or gain iofiuen< 
except over those whom fortune or nature have made 
dependents. He may, by a steady perseverance in h — "^ 
ferocity, fright his children, and harass his servants, but 
rest of the world will look on and laugh ; and he will 
the comfort at last of thinking, that he lives only to 




•Mntempt and hatred, emotions to which wisdom and virtue 
Would be always unwilling to give occasion. He has 
itrived only to make those fear him, whom every reason- 
being is endeavouring to endear by kindness, and must 
itent himself with the pleasure of a triumph obtained by 
■rampling on them who could not resist. He must perceive 
"ia| the apprehension which his presence causes is not the 
^'v* of his virtue, but the dread of his brutality, and that he 
■•^ given up the felicity of being loved, without gaining the 
"onour of being reverenced, 

. But this is not the only ill consequence of the frequent 
**^dii!gence of this blustering passion, which a man, by often 
^^ling lo his assistance, will teach, in a short time, to 
''Itrude before the summons, to rush upon him with 
''Csislless violence, and without any previous notice of its 
approach. He will find himself liable to be inflamed at the 
'irst toncii of provocation, and unable to retain his resent- 
*tacnl, till he has a full conviction of the offence, to pro- 
(lortion his anger to the cause, or to regulate it by prudence 
Or by duty. When a man has once suffered his mind to be 
IS vitiated, he becomes one of the most hateful and 
■appy beings. He can give no security to himself that 
shJall Dot, at the next interview, alienate by some sudden 
isport his dearest friend ; or break out, upon some slight 
contradiction, into such terms of rudeness as can never be 
perfectly forgotten. Whoever converses with him, lives 
-wilb the suspicion and solitude of a man that plays witli a 
tiger, always under a necessity of watching the 
leut in which the capricious savage shall begin to growl. 
It is lold by Prior,* in a panegyrick on the earl of Dorset, 
ftut his servants used to put themselves in his way when he 

* Note II,, Appendix* 

Qr t>' 


was angry, because he was sure to recompense them for any 
indignities which he made them suffer. This is the round 
of a passionate man's life ; he contracts debts when he is 
furious, which his virtue, if he has virtue, obliges him X^ 
discharge at the return of reason. He spends his time in 
outrage and acknowledgment, injury and reparation. Or, 
if there be any who hardens himself in oppression, and 
justifies the wrong, because he has done it, his insensibility 
can make small part of his praise, or his happiness ; he only 
adds deliberate to hasty folly, aggravates petulance by 
contumacy, and destroys the only plea that he can offer for 
the tenderness and patience of mankind. 

Yet, even this degree of depravity we may be content tc 
pity, because it seldom wants a punishment equal to it^ 
guilt Nothing is more despicable or more miserable that 
the old age of a passionate man. When the vigour 
youth fails him, and his amusements pall with frequeal 
repetition, his occasional rage sinks by decay of strengtt 
into peevishness ; that peevishness, for want of novelty anc 
variety, becomes habitual ; the world falls off from arounc 
him, and he is left, as Homer expresses it, ^Qividiov ^Osox 
KTJ^y to devour his own heart in solitude and contempt. 

Saturday y May 5, 1750. 


-Nilfuit unqtmm 

Sic dispar sibi " HoK. 

•* Sure such a various creature ne'er was known," Francis. 

A MONG the many inconsistencies which folly producesj 
-^^ or infirmity suffers, in the human mind, there ha£ 
often been observed a manifest and striking contrariety 


1 the life of an author and his writings ; and Milton, 
ter to a learned stranger, by whom he had been 
with great reason congratulates himself upon the 
usness of being found equal to his own character, 
ving preserved in a private and familiar interview, 
mutation which his works had procured him. 
e whom the appearance of virtue, or the evidence of 
have tempted to a nearer knowledge of the writer in 
performances they may be found, have indeed had 
t reason to repent their curiosity ; the bubble that 
i before them has become common water at the 
the phantom of perfection has vanished when they 
to press it to their bosom. They have lost the 
I of imagining how far humanity may be exalted, 
rhaps, felt themselves less inclined to toil up the 
of virtue, when they observe those who seem best 
point the way, loitering below, as either afraid of the 
or doubtful of the reward. 

is been long the custom of the oriental monarchs to 

emselves in gardens and palaces, to avoid the con- 

tn of mankind, and to be known to their subjects 

their edicts. The same policy is no less necessary 

that writes, than to him that governs; for men 

not more patiently submit to be taught, than com- 

1, by one known to have the same follies and weak- 

svith themselves. A sudden intruder into the closet 

uthor would perhaps feel equal indignation with the 

who having long solicited admission into the 

:e of Sardanapalus, saw him not consulting upon 

iquiring into grievances, or modelling armies, but 

ed in feminine amusements, and directing the ladies 


not difficult to conceive, however, that for many 


reasons a man writes much better than he lives, 
without entering into refined speculations, it may be sh( 
much easier to design than to perform. A man prop( 
his schemes of life in a state of abstraction and disengi 
ment, exempt from the enticements of hope, the solicitati 
of affection, the importunities of appetite, or the depressi 
of fear, and is in the same state with him that teaches u] 
land the art of navigation, to whom the sea is always smo< 
and the wind always prosperous. 

The mathematicians are well acquainted with the 
ference between pure science, which has to do only with idi 
and the application of its laws to the use of life, in wl 
they are constrained to submit to the imperfection of ma 
and the influence of accidents. Thus, in moral discussi( 
it is to be remembered that many impediments obstruct 
practice, which very easily give way to theory, 
speculatist is only in danger of erroneous reasoning ; but 
man involved in life, has his own passions, and those 
others, to encounter, and is embarrassed with a thousi 
inconveniencies, which confound him with variety 
impulse, and either perplex or obstruct his way. He 
forced to act without deliberation, and obliged to ch 
before he can examine : he is surprised by sudden alfc 
tions of the state of things, and changes his measi 
according to superficial appearances ; he is led by oth 
either because he is indolent, or because he is timorous; 
is sometimes afraid to know what is right, and sometii 
finds fiiends or enemies diligent to deceive him. 

We are, therefore, not to wonder that most fail, ami 
tumult, and snares, and danger, in the observance of thi 
precepts, which they lay down in solitude, safety, a 
tranquillity, with a mind unbiassed, and with libe 
unobstructed. It is the condition of our present state 


3 more than we can attain ; the exactest vigilance and 
ution can never maintain a single day of unmingled 
nocence, much less can the utmost efforts of incorporated 
ind reach the summits of speculative virtue. 

It is, however, necessary for the idea of perfection to be 
roposed, that we may have some object to which our 
ndeavours are to be directed ; and he that is most deficient 
1 the duties of life, makes some atonement for his faults, if 
le warns others against his own failings, and hinders, by 
lie salubrity of his admonitions, the contagion of his 

Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge 
rith hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues 
rWch he neglects to practise ; since he may be sincerely 
ionvinced of the advantages of conquering his passions 
without having yet obtained the victory, as a man may be 
onfident of the advantages of a voyage, or a journey, 
without having courage or industry to undertake it, and may 
onestly recommend to others those attempts which he 
eglects himself. 

The interest which the corrupt part of mankind have in 
ardening themselves against every motive to amendment, 
as disposed them to give to these contradictions, when 
ley can be produced against the cause of virtue, that 
eight which they will not allow them in any other case, 
"hey see men act in opposition to their interest, without 
apposing that they do not know it ; those who give way to 
le sudden violence of passion, and forsake the most 
Important pursuits for petty pleasures, are not supposed to 
ave changed their opinions, or to approve their own 
t>nduct. In moral or religious questions alone, they 
ctennine the sentiments by the actions, and charge every 
•^ with endeavouring to impose upon the worlds ^\vQ^ 


writings are not confirmed by his life. They never conside 
that themselves neglect or practise something every da 
inconsistently with their own settled judgment, nor discove 
that the conduct of the advocates for virtue can littl 
increase, or lessen, the obligations of their dictates ; argc 
ment is to be invalidated only by argument, and is in itsd 
of the same force, whether or not it convinces him by when 
it is proposed. 

Yet since this prejudice, however unreasonable, is alwayi 
likely to have some prevalence, it is the duty of every mar 
to take care lest he should hinder the eflScacy of his own 
instructions. When he desires to gain the belief of otiiers, 
he should show that he believes himself; and when he 
teaches the fitness of virtue by his reasonings, he should, by 
his example, prove its possibility : Thus much at least may 
be required of him, that he shall not act worse than others, 
because he writes better ; nor imagine that, by the merit of 
his genius, he may claim indulgence beyond mortals of the 
lower classes, and be excused for want of prudence, or 
neglect of virtue. 

Bacon, in his history of the winds, after having offered 
something to the imagination as desirable, often proposes 
lower advantages in its place to the reason as attainable 
The same method may be sometimes pursued in moral 
endeavours, which this philosopher observed in natural 
inquiries ; having first set positive and absolute excellence 
before us, we may be pardoned though we sink down tc 
humbler virtue, trying, however, to keep our point always ifl 
view, and struggling not to lose ground, though we cannot 
gain it 

It is recorded of Sir Matthew Hale, that he, for a lonj 
time, concealed the consecration of himself to the strictei 
duties of religion, lest, by some flagitious and shameful 


action, he should bring piety into <iisgrace. For the same 
reason it may be prudent for a writ-er, who apprehends that 
I he shall not inforce his own maxims by bis domestick 
I character, to conceal his name, that he may not injure theoL 
There are, indeed, a great number whose curiosity to gain 
L a more familiar knowledge of successful writers, is not so 
1 much prompted by an opinion of their power to improve as 
ft de light, and who expect from them not arguments against 
ir dissertations on temperance or justice, hut flights of 
I sallies of pleasantry, or, at least, acute remarks, 
tistinctions, justness of sentiment, and elegance of 

expectation is, indeed, specious and probable, and 
is the fate of all human hopes, that it is very oflea 
id, and those who raise admiration by their books, 
by their company. A man of letters for the most 
the privacies of study, that season of life in 
die manners are to be softened into ease, and 
into elegance ; and, when he has gained knowledge 
to be respected, has neglected the minuter acts by 
might have pleased. When he enters life, if his 
be soft and timorous, he is difEdent and bashful, 
knowledge of his defects j or if he was born with 
id resolution, he is ferocious and arrogant, from the 
of his merit : he is either dissipated by the 
»we of company, and unable to recollect his reading, and 
■Ruige his arguments ; or he is hot and dogmatical, quick 
in opposition, and tenacious in defence, disabled by his own 
violence, and confused by his haste to triumph. 

The graces of writing and conversation are of different 
Unds ; and though he who excels in one might have been, 
*ith opportunities and application, equally successful in the 
Other, yet as many please by extemporaiy talk, thou^ 


utterly unacquainted with the more accurate method 
more laboured beauties, which composition requires ; 
is very possible that men, wholly accustomed to wa 
study, may be without that readiness of conception 
affluence of language, always necessary to colloquial ' 
tainment. They may want address to watch the 
which conversation offers for the display of their part 
attainments, or they may be so much unfurnished 
matter on common subjects, that discourse not profes 
literary glides over them as heterogeneous bodies, wi 
admitting their conceptions to mix in the circulation. 

A transition from an author's book to his conversati< 
too often like an entrance into a large city, after a d 
prospect. Remotely, we see nothing but spires of tei 
and turrets of palaces, and imagine it the resideni 
splendour, grandeur, and magnificence \ but, when we 
passed the gates, we find it perplexed with narrow pasj 
disgraced with despicable cottages, embarrassed 
obstructions, and clouded vdth smoke.* 

Saturday, May 12, 1750. 


-Multis dicendi copia torrens. 

Et sua moriifera estfacundia ^** J 

** Some who the depths of eloquence have found, 
In that unnavigable stream were drown'd." Drye 

T AM the modest young man whom you favoured 
-*■ your advice, in a late paper \ and, as I am very far 
suspecting that you foresaw the numberless inconvenie 

* Note III., Appendix. 


i?hich I have, by following it, brought upon myself, 
1 will lay ray condition open before you, for you seem 
bound to extricate me from the perplexities in which your 
counsel, however innocent in the intention, has contributed 
to involve me. 

You told me, as you thought, to my comfort, that a 
writer might easily find means of introducing his genius to 
Ae world, for the presses of England were open.* This I 
have now fatally experienced ; the press is, indeed, open. 

•* FcLcilis descensus Avemi^ 

Nodes atque dies patet atri janua Dttis^ Juv. 

** The gates of hell are open night and day ; 
Smooth the descent, and easy is the way.*' 


The means of doing hurt to ourselves are always at hand. 
I immediately sent to a^printer, and contracted with him for 
*Q impression of several thousands of my pamphlet. While 
i^ was at the press, I was seldom absent from the printing- 
house, and continually urged the workmen to haste, by 
solicitations, promises, and rewards. From the day all other 
pleasures were excluded, by the delightful employment of 
correcting the sheets ; and from the night, sleep generally 
*as banished, by anticipation of the happiness which every 
hour was bringing nearer. 

At last the time of publication approached, and my heart 
heat with the raptures of an author. I was above all little 
precautions, and in defiance of envy or of criticism, set my 
*^e upon the title, without sufficiently considering, that 
what has once passed the press is irrevocable, and that 
^ough the printing-house may properly be compared to the 

* Note IV», Appendix. 


infernal regions, for the facility of its entrance, and th 
difficulty with which authors return from it; yet there i 
this difference, that a great genius can never return to hi 
former state, by a happy draught of the waters of oblivion. 

I am now, Mr. Rambler, known to be an author, and am 
condemned, irreversibly condemned, to all the miseries of 
high reputation. The first morning after publication my 
friends assembled about me ; I presented each, as is usual, 
with a copy of my book. They looked into the first pages^ 
but were hindered, by their admiration, from reading further. 
The first pages are, indeed, very elaborate. Some passages 
they particularly dwelt upon, as more eminently beautiful 
than the rest; and some delicate strokes and secret 
elegancies, I pointed out to them which had escaped their 
observation. I then begged of them to forbear their 
compliments, and invited them, I could do no less, to dioc 
with me at a tavern. After dinner, the book was resumed 
but their praises very often so much overpowered lO! 
modesty, that I was forced to put about the glass, an< 
had often no means of repressing the clamours of thei 
admiration, but by thundering to the drawer for anoth^ 

Next morning another set of my acquaintance coi 
gratulated me upon my performance, with such importunil 
of praise, that I was again forced to obviate their civilitie 
by a treat On the third day, I had yet a greater numbe 
of applauders to put to silence in the same manner; anc 
on the fourth, those whom I had entertained the first da 
came again, having, in the perusal of the remaining part c 
the book, discovered so many forcible sentences an 
masterly touches, that it was impossible for me to bear th 
repetition of their commendations. I therefore persuade 
them once more to adjourn to the taver* **•*'' chuse som 


other subject, on which I might share in their conversation^ 
But it was not in their power to withhold their attention 
from my performance, which had so entirely taken possession 
of their minds that no entreaties of mine could change 
their topic, and I was obliged to stifle, with claret, that 
pnuse which neither my modesty could hinder, nor my 
uneasiness repress. 

The whole week was thus spent in a kind of literary revel, 
and I have now foimd that nothing is so expensive as great 
abilities, unless there is joined with them an insatiable 
eagerness of praise ; for to escape from the pain of hearing 
niyself above the greatest names, dead and living, of the 
learned world, it has already cost me two hogsheads of port, 
fifteen gallons of arrack, ten dozen of claret, and five and 
forty bottles of champagne. 

I was resolved to stay at home no longer, and therefore 
wse early and went to the coffee-house ; but found that I 
^d now made myself too eminent for happiness, and that I 
''as no longer to enjoy the pleasure of mixing, upon equal 
terms, with the rest of the world. As soon as I enter the 
room I see part of the company raging with envy, which 
^ey endeavour to conceal, sometimes with the appearance 
^ laughter, and sometimes with that of contempt ; but the 
^guise is such that I can discover the secret rancour of 
^eir hearts, and as envy is deservedly its own punishment, 
I frequently indulge myself in tormenting them with my 

But though there may be some slight satisfaction received 
^ni the mortification of my enemies, yet my benevolence 
^U not suffer me to take any pleasure in the terrours of. my 
Wends. I have been cautious, since the appearance of 
^y work, not to give myself more premeditated airs of 
^periority than the most rigid humihty might allow. It is, 




indeed, not impossible that I may sometimes have laid down 
my opinion in a manner that showed a consciousness or m; 

ability to maintain it, or intemipled the conversation, when 
I saw its tendency, without sufTering the speaker to wasi 
time in explaining his sentiments ; and, indeed, I did 
indulge myself for two days in a custom of drumming wiHi 
my fingers, when the company began to lose themselves id 
absurdities, or to encroach upon subjects which I knew 
them unqualified to discuss. But I generally acted with 
great appearance of respect, even to those whose stupidiiy 
I pitied in my heart. Vet, notwithstanding this exemplaiy 
moderation, so universal is the dread of uncommon powers, 
and such the unwillingness of mankind to be made wiser, 
that I have now for some days found myself shunned by all 
my acquaintance, If I knock at a door, no body i: 
home ; if I enter a coffee-house, I have the box to myself. 
I live in the town like a lion in his desert, or an eagle on 
his rock, too great for friendship or society, and condemned 
to solitude by unhappy elevation and dreaded ascendency- 

Nor is my character only formidable to others, bi* 
burdensome to myself. I naturally love to talk without 
much thinking, to scatter my merriment at random, and t 
relax my thoughts with ludicrous remarks and faadfi) 
images; but such is now the impoitance of my opinion 
that I am afraid to offer it, lest, by being established to* 
hastily into a maxim, it should be the occasion of errour f 
half the nation ; and such is the expectation with which \ 
am attended, when I am going to speak, that I frequentlj 
pause to reflect whether what I am about to utter is worth] 
of myself. 

This, Sir, is sufficiently miserable ; but there are i 
greater calamities behind. You must have read in P< 
and Swift how men of parts have had their closets rifiedt 


and their cabinets broke open, at the instigation of piratical 
booksellers, for the profit of their works ; and it is apparent 
that there are many prints now sold in the shops, of men 
whom you cannot suspect of sitting for that purpose, and 
»hose likenesses must have been certainly stolen when 
their names made their faces vendible. These considera- 
tions at first pot me on my guard, and I have, indeed, found 
(Officietit reason for ray caution, for I have discovered many 
people eiiamining my countenance, with a curiosity that 
ihowed their intention to draw it ; I immediately left the 
house, but find the same behaviour in another. 

Others may be persecuted, but I am haunted ; I have 
good reason to believe that eleven painters are now dogging 
iWi for they know that he who can get my face first will 
make his forlune. I often change my wig, and wear my 
fwt over my eyes, by which I hope somewhat to confound 
win ; for you know it is not fair to sell my face, without 
admitting me to share the profit. 

I im, however, not so much in pain for my face as for 
"^y papers, which I dare neither carry with me nor leave 
'■shind. I have, indeed, taken some measures for their 
Preservation, having put them in an iron chest, and fixed a 
P'dlock upon my closet I change my lodgings five times 
' *eek, and always remove at the dead of night. 

Thus I live, in consequence of having given too great 
proofs of a predominant genius, in the solitude of a hermit, 
*itfa the anxiety of a miser, and the caution of an outlaw ; 
Wniid to show my face lest it should be copied ; afraid to 
^•cak, lest I should injure my character ; and to write, lest 
•■y conespondents should publish my letters ; always 
"ota^ lest ray servants should steal my papers for the sake 
Of money, or my friends for that of the publick. This it is 
to wu above the rest of mankind ; and this representation 


I lay before you, that I may be informed how to dives 
myself of the laurels which are so cumbersome to the wearei 
and descend to the enjojmaent of that quiet, from which J 
find a writer of the first class so fatally debarred. 


Tuesday^ May 29, 1750. 

** Terra sdluHferas herdcLS, eademque nocenies^ 

Nutrit ; 6* urticce proxima scepe rosa est,*' O^l^ 

" Our bane and physick the same earth bestows, 
And near the noisome nettle blooms the rose.'* 

"PVERY man is prompted by the love of himself t 
imagine, that he possesses some qualities, superioU^ 
either in kind or in degree, to those which he sees allotte 
to the rest of the world ; and, whatever apparent disa^ 
vantages he may suffer in the comparison with others, b 
has some invisible distinctions, some latent reserve c 
excellence, which he throws into the balance, and b 
which he generally fancies that it is turned in his favour. 

The studious and speculative part of mankind alway 
seem to consider their fraternity as placed in a state c 
opposition to those who are engaged in the tumult C 
publick business ; and have pleased themselves, from ag 
to age, with celebrating the felicity of their own condition 
and with recounting the perplexity of politicks, the danger 
of greatness, the anxieties of ambition, and the miseries o 

Among the numerous topicks of declamation, that thei 
industry has discovered on this subject, there is none whid 


they press with greater efforts, or on which they have more 
copiously laid out their reason and their imagination, than 
the instability of high stations, and the uncertainty with 
which the profits and honours are possessed, that must be 
acquired with so much hazard, vigilance, and labour. 

This they appear to consider as an irrefragable argument 
against the choice of the statesman and the warriour ; and 
swell with confidence of victory, thus furjished by the 
muses with the arms which never can be blunted, and 
which no art or strength of their adversaries can elude or 

It was well known by experience to the nations which 
employed elephants in war, that though by the terrour of 
their bulk, and the violence of their impression, they often 
^ew the enemy into disorder, yet there was always danger 
^ the use of them, very nearly equivalent to the advantage; 
^ if their first charge could be supported, they were easily 
"'Jven back upon their confederates; they then broke 
"^ough the troops behind them, and made no less havock 
^ the precipitation of their retreat, than in the fiiry of their 
^set . 

I know not whether those who have so vehemently urged 
^'^^ inconveniencies and danger of an active life, have not 
^^de use of arguments that may be retorted with equal 
^^ce upon themselves ; and whether the happiness of a 
^^didate for literary feme be not subject to the same 
^^certainty with that of him who governs provinces, com- 
^^^nds armies, presides in the senate^ or dictates in the 

That eminence of learning is not to be gained without 
^bour, at least equal to that which any other kind of great- 
^ss can require, will be allowed by those who wish to 
Wvate the character of a scholar ; since they cannot but 


know, that every human acquisition is valuable id propori 
to the difficulty employed in its attainment. And I 
those who have gained the esteem and veneration of 
world, by their knowledge or their genius, are by no me 
exempt from the solicitude which any other kind of digi 
produces, maybe conjectured from the innumerable arlift 
which they make use of to degrade a superiour, to reprea 
rival, or obstruct a follower ; artifices so gross and mean, 
to prove evidently how much a man may excel 
without being either more wise or more virtuous than th 
whose ignorance he pities or despises. 

Nothing therefore remains, by which the student ■ 
gratify his desire of appearing to have built his happit 
on a more firm basis than his antagonist, except 
certainty with which his honours are enjoyed, ' 
garlands gained by the heroes of literature must 
gathered from summits equally difficult to climb with tin 
that bear the civick or triumphal wreaths, they must 
worn with equal envy, and guarded with equal care fix 
those hands that are always employed in efforts to 
them away j the only remaining hope is, that their verdt 
is more lasting, and that they are less likely to fade by til 
or less obnoxious to the blast of accident 

Even this hope will receive very little encouragero 
from the examination of the history of learning, or obsec 
tion of the iate of scholars in the present age. If we 1( 
back into past times, we find innumerable names ofautb 
once in higli reputation, read perhaps by the beauti 
quoted by the witty, and commented on by the grave 
of whom we now know only that they once existed. If 
consider the distribution of literary fame in our own 1 
we shall find it a possession of very uncertain tenure ; s 
times bestowed by a sudden caprice of the publick. 


&gain transferred to a new favourite, for no other reason 
tboD that he is new ; sometimes refused to long labour and 
nninent desert, and sometimes granted to very slight 
pratensions ; lost sometimes by security and negligence, and 
SMnctiraes by loo diligent endeavours to retain it 

Asuccessfiil author is equally in danger of the diminution 
nf his fame, whether he continues or ceases to write. The 
regard of the publick is not to be kept but by tribute, and 
llic remembrance of past service will quickly languish, 
unless successive performances frequently revive it. Vet in 
wciy new attempt there is new hazard, and there are few 
who do not at some unlucky time, injure their own 
•Asraclers by attempting to enlarge them. 

There are many possible causes of that inequality which 
W may so frequently observe in the pierformances of the 
Klineman, from the influence of which no ability or industry 
l* sufiiciently secured, and which have so often sullied the 
^lendour of genius, that the wit, as well as the conqueror, 
"'*)' be properly cautioned not to indulge his pride with too 
O'ly triumphs, but to defer to the end of life his estimate 
of happiness. 

" TTItima simper 

Expectanda dies kemiiii, dicigui icalui 
A«le ebitHW tKmo supnuaaque ftinera dehel." 
•• Bui no fp 

Among the motives that urge an author to undertakings 
"T which his reputation is impaired, one of the most 
"*<luent must be mentioned with tenderness, because it is 
lui to be counted among his follies, but his miseries. It 
^^ often happens that the works of learning or of wit are 
P"forraed at the direction of those by whom they are to be 
^2jWded; the writer has not always the choice of his 



subject, but is compelled to accept any task which is 
thrown before him without much consideration of his own 
convenience, and without time to prepare himself by 
previous studies. 

Miscarriages of this kind are likewise frequently the 
consequence of that acquaintance with the great, which is 
generally considered as one of the chief privileges of litera- 
ture and genius. A man who has once learned to think 
himself exalted by familiarity with those whom nothing but 
their birth, or their fortunes, or such stations as are seldom 
gained by moral excellence, set above him, will not be 
long without submitting his understanding to their conduct ; 
he will suffer them to prescribe the course of his studies, 
and employ him for their own purposes either of diversion 
or interest. His desire of pleasing those whose favour he 
has weakly made necessary to himself, will not suffer him 
always to consider how little he is qualified for the work 
imposed. Either his vanity will tempt him to conceal his 
deficiencies, or that cowardice, which always encroaches fest 
upon such as spend their lives in the company of persons 
higher than themselves, will not leave him resolution to 
assert the liberty of choice. 

But, though we suppose that a man by his fortune caa 
avoid the necessity of dependence, and by his spirit can. 
repel the usurpations of patronage, yet he may easily, by 
writing long, happen to write ill. There is a general 
Succession of events in which contraries are produced t>y 
periodical vicissitudes ; labour and care are rewarded wi^Vi 
success, success produces confidence, confidence relaX^^ 
industry, and negligence ruins that reputation whi^^ 
accuracy had raised. 

He that happens not to be lulled by praise into supi^ 
Hess, may be animated by it to undertakings above 


strength, or incited to fancy himself alike qualified for every 
kind of composition, and able to comply with the publick 
taste through all its variations. By some opinion like this, 
many men have been engaged, at an advanced age, in 
attempts which they had not time to complete, and after a 
few weak efforts, sunk into the grave with vexation to see 
the rising generation gain ground upon them. From these 
failures the highest genius is not exempt; that judgment 
which appears so penetrating, when it is employed upon the 
works of others, very often fails where interest or passion 
can exert their power. We are blinded in examining our 
own labours by innumerable prejudices. Our juvenile 
compositions please us, because they bring to our mind the 
remembrance of youth ; our later performances we are ready 
to esteem, because we are unwilling to think that we have 
made no improvement; what flows easily from the pen 
charms us, because we read with pleasure that which flatters 
our opinion of our own powers ; what was composed with 
great struggles of the mind we do not easily reject, because 
we cannot bear that so much labour should be fruitless. 
But the reader has none of these prepossessions, and 
wonders that the author is so unlike himself, without con- 
sidering that the same soil will, with different culture, afford 
different products. 


Saturday, June 2, 1 750. 


Ego nee siudium sine diviii venA^ 

Nee rude quid prosit video ingmium^ alierius tie 
Altera poseit opem res^ 6* conjurat amicej^ HOR. 

Qius learning soars m vain ; ^ 

learning genius sinks again ; > 

nited crowns the spriehtly reign.*' J 

' * Without a genius 
And without 
Their force united crowns the sprightly reign. 


"1 1 riT and Learning were the children of Apollo, by 
^ ^ different mothers ; Wit was the offspring of Euphrg- 
SYNEj and resembled her in cheerfulness and vivacity; 
Learning was borne of Sophia, and retained her seriousness 
and caution. As their mothers were rivals, they were bred 
up by them from their birth in habitual opposition, and all 
means were so incessantly employed to impress upon them 
a hatred and contempt of each other, that though Apollo^ 
who foresaw the ill effects of their discord, endeavoured to 
soften them, by dividing his regard equally between them, 
yet his impartiality and kindness were without effect; the 
maternal animosity was deeply rooted, having been inter* 
mingled with their first ideas, and was confirmed every 
hour, as fresh opportunities occurred of exerting it. No 
sooner were they of age to be received into the apartments 
of the other celestials, than Wit began to entertain Venus 
at her toilet, by aping the solemnity of Learning, and 
Learning to divert Minerva at her loom, by exposing the 
blunders and ignorance of Wit. 
Thus they grew up, with malice perpetually increasing, by 



the encouragement which each received from those whom 
their mothers had persuaded to patronise and support them; 
and longed to be admitted to the table of Jupiter, not so 
much for the hope of gaining honour, as of excluding a 
rival from all pretensions to regard, and of putting an evei^ 
lasting stop to the progress of that influence which either 
believed the other to have obtained by mean arts and false 

At last the day came, when they were both, with the usual 
solemnities, received into the class of superiour deities, and 
allowed to take nectar from the hand of Hebe. But from 
that hour Concord lost her authority at the table of Jupiter. 
The rivals, animated by their new dignity, and incited by 
the alternate applauses of the associate powers, harassed 
each other by incessant contests, with such a regular vicissi- 
tude of victory, that neither was depressed. 

It was observable, that, at the beginning of every debatei 
tbe advantage was on the side of Wit; and that, at the first 
sallies, the whole assembly sparkled, according to Homer's 
expression, with unextinguishable merriment. But Learn- 
iHG would reserve her strength till the burst of applause was 
over, and the languor with which the violence of joy ia 
always succeeded, began to promise more calm and patient 
attention. She then attempted her defence, and, by com- 
paring one part of her antagonist's objeciions with another, 
commonly made him confute himself; or, by showing how 
small a part of the question he had taken into his view, 

wed that his opinion could have no weight. The 
mce began gradually to lay aside their prepossessions, 

I lose, at last, with great veneration for Learning, but 

It greater kindness for Wit, 

Their conduct was, whenever they desired to recommend 
themselves to distinction, entirely opposite. Wii ^*a 

HBa lose 



daring and adventurous ; Learning cautious and deliberate. 
Wit thought nothing reproachful but dulness; Learning 
was afraid of no imputation but that of errour. Wit 
answered before he understood, lest his quickness of appre- 
hension should be questioned; Learning paused, where 
there was no difficulty, lest any insidious sophism should lie 
undiscovered. Wit perplexed every debate by rapidity and 
confusion ; Learning tired the hearers with endless 
distinctions, and prolonged the dispute without advantage, 
by proving that which never was denied. Wit, in hopes of 
shining, would venture to produce what he had not con- 
sidered, and often succeeded beyond his own expectation, by 
following the train of a lucky thought; Learning would 
reject every new notion, for fear of being entangled in 
consequences which she could not foresee, and was often 
hindered, by her caution, from pressing her advantages, and 
subduing her opponent 

Both had prejudices, which in some degree hindered their 
progress towards perfection, and left them open to attacks. 
Novelty was the darling of Wit, and antiquity of Learning. 
To Wit, all that was new was specious; to Learning, 
whatever was ancient was venerable. Wit however seldom 
failed to divert those whom he could not convince, and to 
convince was not often his ambition ; Learning always 
supported her opinion with so many collateral truths, that 
when the cause was decided against her, her arguments were 
remembered with admiration. 

Nothing was more common, on either side, than to quit 
their proper characters, and to hope for a complete conquest 
by the use of the weapons which had been employed 
against them. Wit would sometimes labour a syllogism, 
and Learning distort her features with a jest; but they 
always suffered by the experiment, and betrayed themselves 


to confutation or contempt The seriousness of Wit was 
without dignity, and the merriment of Learning without 

Their contests, by long continuance, grew at last im- 
portant, and the divinities broke into parties. Wit was taken 
into protection of the laughter-loving Venus, had a retinue 
allowed him of Smiles and Jests, and was often permitted 
to dance among the Graces. Learning still continued 
the favourite of Minerva, and seldom went out of her 
palace, without a train of the severer virtues. Chastity, 
Temperance, Fortitude, and Labour. Wit, cohabiting 
with Malice, had a son named Satyr, who followed him, 
carrying a quiver filled with poisoned arrows, which, where 
they once drew blood, could by no skill ever be extracted. 
These arrows he frequently shot at Learning, when she 
was most earnestly and usefully employed, engaged in 
abstruse inquiries, or giving instructions to her followers. 
Minerva therefore deputed Criticism to her aid, who 
generally broke the point of Satyr's arrows, turned them 
aside, or retorted them on himself. 

Jupiter was at last angry that the peace of the heavenly 
regions should be in perpetual danger of violation, and 
resolved to dismiss these troublesome antagonists to the 
lower world. Hither therefore they came, and carried on 
their ancient quarrel among mortals, nor was either long 
without zealous votaries. Wit, by his gaiety, captivated the 
young; and Learning, by her authority, influenced the 
old. Their power quickly appeared by very eminent effects, 
theatres were built for the reception of Wit ; and colleges 
endowed for the residence of Learning. Each party 
endeavoured to outvie the other in cost and magnificence, 
and to propagate an opinion, that it was necessary, from the 
first entrance into life, to enhst in one of the factions ; and 



that none could hope for the regard of either divinity, who 
had once entered the temple of the rival power. 

There were indeed a class of mortals, by whom Wit and 
Learning were equally disregarded : these were the devotees 
of Plutus, the god of riches ; among these it seldom hap- 
pened that the gaiety of VVit could raise a smile, or the 
eloquence of Learning procure attention. In revenge of 
this contempt they agreed to incite their followers against 
them ; but the forces that were sent on those expeditions 
frequently betrayed their trust ; and, in contempt of the 
orders which they had received, flattered the rich in publick, 
while they scorned them in their hearts ; and when, by this 
treachery, they obtained the favour of Plutus, affected to 
look with an air of superiority on those who still remained 
in the service of Wit and Learning. 

Disgusted with these desertions, the two rivals, at the 
same time, petitioned Jupiter for re-admission to their 
native habitations. Jupiter thundered on the right hand, 
and they prepared to obey the happy summons. Wit 
readily spread his wings and soared aloft, but not being 
able to see far, was bewildered in the pathless immensity of 
the ethereal spaces. Learning, who knew the way, shook 
her pinions ; but for want of natural vigour could only take 
short flights : so, after many efforts, they both sunk again 
to the ground, and learned, from their mutual distress, the 
necessity of union. They therefore joined their hands, and 
renewed their flight : Learning was borne up by the 
vigour of Wit, and Wir guided by the perspicacity of 
Learning. They soon reached the dwellings of Jupit^, 
and were so endeared to each other, that they lived after- 
wards in perpetual concord. Wit persuaded Learning to 
converse with the Graces, and Learning engaged Wit in 
the service of the Virtues. They were now the favourites. 


of all the powers of heaven, and gladdened every banquet 
by theii presence. They soon after married, at the com- 
mand of Jupiter, and had a numerous progeny of Arts and 

Tuesday, June 5, 1750. 

" Tm mihi amvivte props dtssenlird vidattur ; 
Poscenlur van'o mulium ifiveria /alaia." HoB. 

" Three gueals I have, dissenting at my feast, 
Requiring each to gratify his taste 
With different Tood." Francis, 

'T'HAT every man should regulate his actions by his own 
■^ conscience, without any regard to the opinions of the 
rest of the world, is one of the first precepts of moral 
prudence ; justified not only by the suffrage of reason, 
which declares that none of the gifts of heaven are to lie 
useless, but by the voice likewise of experience, which will 
soon hiform us that, if we make the praise or blame of 
Others the rule of our conduct, we shall be distracted by a 
boundless variety of irreconcilcable judgments, be held in 
perpetual suspense between contrary impulses, and consult 
for ever without determination. 

I know not whether, for the same reason, it is not 
necessaty for an author to place some confidence in his 
own skill, and to satisfy himself in the knowledge that 
be has not deviated from the established laws of com- 
position, without submitting his works to frequent examina- 
tions before he gives them to the publick, or endeavouring 
to secure success by a solicitous conformity to advice and 


It is, indeed, quickly discoverable, that consultation and 
compliance can conduce little to the perfection of any 
literary performance ; for whoever is so doubtful of his own 
abilities as to encourage the remarks of others, will find 
himself every day embarrassed with new difficulties, and 
will harass his mind, in vain, with the hopeless labour of 
uniting heterogeneous ideas, digesting independent hints, 
and collecting into one point the several rays of borrowed 
light, emitted often with contrary directions. 

Of all authors, those who retail their labours in periodical 
sheets would be most unhappy, if they were much to regard 
the censures or the admonitions of their readers : for, as 
their works are not sent into the world at once, but by 
small parts in gradual succession, it is always imagined, by 
thoser who think themselves qualified to give instructions, 
that they may yet redeem their former failings by hearken- 
ing to better judges, and supply the deficiencies of their 
plan, by the help of the criticisms which are so liberally 

I have had occasion to observe, sometimes with vexation, 
and sometimes with merriment, the different temper with 
which the same man reads a printed and manuscript 
performance. When a book is once in the hands of the 
publick, it is considered as permanent and unalterable ; and 
the reader, if he be free from personal prejudices, takes it 
up with no other intention than of pleasing or instructing 
himself : he accommodates his mind to the author's design ; 
and, having no interest in refusing the amusement that is 
offered him, never interrupts his own tranquillity by studied 
cavils, or destroys his satisfaction in that which is already 
well, by an anxious inquiry how it might be better; but 
is often contented without pleasure, and pleased without 


But M the same man be called to consider the merit of a 

production yet unpublished, he brings an imagination 

heated with objections to passages which he has yet never 

heard ; he invokes all the powers of criticism, and stores 

his memory with Taste and Grace, Purity and Delicacy, 

Manners and Unities, sounds which, having been once 

uttered by those that understood them, have been since 

re-echoed without meaning, and kept up to the disturbance 

of the world, by a constant repercussion from one coxcomb 

to another. He considers himself as obliged to show, by 

some proof of his abilities, that he is not consulted to no 

purpose, and therefore watches every opening for objection, 

and looks round for every opportunity to propose some 

specious alteration. Such opportunities a very small degree 

of sagacity will enable him to find ; for, in every work of 

imagination, the disposition of parts, the insertion of 

incidents, and use of decorations, may be varied a thousand 

ways with equal propriety ; and as in things nearly equal, 

that will always seem best to every man which he himself 

produces; the critick, whose business is only to propose, 

without the care of execution, can never want the satis- 

faiction of believing that he has suggested very important 

improvements, nor the power of enforcing his advice by 

arguments, which, as they appear convincing to himself, 

other his kindness or his vanity will press obstinately and 

importunately, without suspicion that he may possibly 

judge too hastily in favour of his own advice, or inquiry 

whether the advantage of the new scheme be proportionate 

^0 the labour. 

It is observed, by the younger Pliny, that an orator ought 
*^ot so much to select the strongest arguments which his 
^use admits, as to employ all which his imagination can 
afford : for, in pleading, those reasons are of mosX \^m^^ 



which will most affect the judges ; and the judges, says h^ 
will be always most touched with that which they had 
before conceived. Every man who is called to give his 
opinion of a performance, decides upon the same principle \ 
he first suffers himself to form expectations, and then \& 
angry at his disappointment. He lets his imagination rove 
at large, and wonders that another, equally unconfined in 
the boundless ocean of possibility, takes a different course. 

But, though the rule of Pliny be judiciously laid down, 
it is not applicable to the writer's cause, because there 
always lies an appeal from domestick criticism to a higher 
judicature, and the publick, which is never corrupted, nor 
often deceived, is to pass the last sentence upon literary 

Of the great force of preconceived opinions I had many 
proofs, when I first entered upon this weekly labour. My 
readers having, from the performances of my predecessors, 
established an idea of unconnected essays, to which they 
believed all future authors under a necessity of conforming, 
Were impatient of the least deviation from their system, and 
numerous remonstrances were accordingly made by each, 
as he found his favourite subject omitted or delayed 
Some were angry that the Rambler did not, like the 
Spectator, introduce himself to the acquaintance of the 
publick, by an account of his own birth and studies, an 
enumeration of his adventures, and a description of his 
physiognomy. Others soon began to remark that he was a 
solemn, serious, dictatorial writer, without sprightliness or 
gaiety, and called out with vehemence for mirth and 
humour. Another admonished him to have a special eye 
upon the various clubs of this great city, and informed him 
that much of the spectator's vivacity was laid out upon such 
assemblies. He has been censured for not imitating the 


)oliteness of his predecessors, having hitherto neglected to 
ake the ladies under his protection, and give them rules 
"or the just opposition of colours, and the proper dimen- 
sions of ruffles and pinners. He has been required by one 
to fix a particular censure upon those matrons who play at 
cards with spectacles : and another is very much offended 
whenever he meets with a speculation in which naked 
precepts are comprised without the illustration of examples 
and characters. 

I make not the least question that all these monitors 
intend the promotion of my design, and the instruction of 
my readers ; but they do not know, or do not reflect, that 
an author has a rule of choice peculiar to himself; and 
selects those subjects which he is best qualified to treat, by 
the course of his studies, or the accidents of his life ; that 
some topicks of amusement have been already treated with 
too much success to invite a competition ; and that he who 
endeavours to gain many readers must try various arts of 
invitation, essay every avenue of pleasure, and make frequent 
changes in his methods of approach. 

I cannot but consider myself, amidst this tumult of 
criticism, as a ship in a poetical tempest, impelled at the 
same time by opposite winds, and dashed by the waves from 
every quarter, but held upright by the contrariety of the 
assailants, and secured in some measure, by multiplicity of 
distress. Had the opinion of my censurers been unanimous, 
it might perhaps have overset my resolution ; but since I 
find them at variance with each other, I can, without 
scrapie, neglect them, and endeavour to gain the favour of 
tile publick by following the direction of my own reason, 
*nd indulging the sallies of my own imagination. 


Saturday, June 23, 1750. 

** //// mors gravis irtcubcUt 
Quit notus nimis omnibus^ 
Ignotus moritur sibi" Seneca. 

" To him ! alas ! to him, I fear, 
The face of death will terrible appear. 
Who in his life, flattering his senseless pride. 
By being known to all the world beside. 
Does not himself, when he is dying, know, 
Nor what he is, nor whither he's to go." CowLEY. 

T HAVE shown, in a late essay, to what errours men are 
■^ hourly betrayed by a mistaken opinion of their own 
powers, and a negligent inspection of their own character. 
But as I then confined my observations to common 
occurrences and familiar scenes, I think it proper to inquire, 
how far a nearer acquaintance with ourselves is necessary to 

*-<oiir preservation from crimes as well as follies, and how 
much the attentive study of our own minds may contribute 
to secure to us the approbation of that Being, to whom we 
are accountable for our thoughts and our actions, and 
whose favour must finally constitute our total happiness. 

If it be reasonable to estimate the difficulty of any 
enterprise by frequent miscarriages, it may justly be con- 
cluded that it is not easy for a man to know himself, for 
wheresoever we turn our view, we shall find almost all with 
whom we converse so nearly as to judge of their sentiments, 

-^-indulging more favourable conceptions of their own virtue 
than they have been able to impress upon others, and 
congratulating themselves upon degrees of excellence, which 
their fondest admirers cannot allow them to have attained. 


Those representations of imaginary virtue are generally 
onsidered as arts of hypocrisy, and as snares laid for 
confidence and praise. But I believe the suspicion often 
in just; those who thus propagate their own reputation, 
Dnly extend ifiie fraud by which they have been themselves 
ieceived ; for this failing is incident to numbers, who seem 
to live without designs, competitions, or pursuits ; it appears 
3n occasions which promise no accession of honour or of 
profit, and to persons from whom very little is to be hoped 
or fearedy It is, indeed, not easy to tell how far we may be 
blinded by the love of ourselves, when we reflect how much 
a secondary passion can cloud our judgment, and how few 
faults a man, in the first raptures of love, can discover in 
the person or conduct of his mistress. /^ 

To lay open all tbg, sources ^^opi wl^irh--^>i'mrrr"1!7Tw<w-^jn 

upon him who contemplates his own character, would 
require more exact knowledge of the human heart, than, 
perhaps, the most acute and laborious observers have 
acquired. And since falsehood may be diversified without 
end, it is not unlikely that every man admits an imposture 
in some respect peculiar to himself, as his views have been 
iccidently directed, or his ideas particularly combined. 

Some fallacies, however, there are, more frequently 
insidious, which it may, perhaps, not be useless to detect ; 
because though they are gross, they may be fatal, and 
because nothing but attention is necessary to defeat them. 

'^ne sophism by which men persuade themselves that 
they have those virtues which they really want, is formed by 
(he substitution of single acts for habits. A miser who 
once relieved a friend from the danger of a prison, suffers 
his imagination to dwell for ever upon his own heroic 
generosity ; he yields his heart up to indignation at those 
who are blind to merit, or insensible to misery, and who can 


please themselves with the enjoyment of that wealth, which 
they never permit others to partake. From any censures of 
the world, or reproaches of his conscience, he has an appeal 
to action and to knowledge : and though his whole life is a 
course of rapacity and avarice, he concludes himself to be 
tender and liberal, because he has once performed an act of 
liberality and tenderness. 

As a glass which magnifies objects by the approach of 
one end to the eye, lessens them by the application of the 
other, so vices are extenuated by the inversion of that 
fallacy, by which virtues are augmented. Those faults 
which we cannot conceal from our own notice, are con- 
sidered, however frequent, not as habitual corruptions, or 
^ttled practices, but as casual failures, and single lapses. 
A man who has from year to year set his country to sale, 
either for the gratification of his ambition or resentment, 
confesses that the heat of party now and then betrays the 
severest virtue to measures that cannot be seriously 
defended. He that spends his days and nights in riot and 
debauchery, owns that his passions oftentimes overpower 
his resolutions. But each comforts himself that his faults 
are not without precedent, for the best and wisest men have 
given way to the violence of sudden temptations. 

There are men who always confound the praise oi 
gp6dness with the practice, and who believe themselves 
./mild and moderate, charitable and faithful, because they 
have exerted their eloquence in commendation of mildness, 
fidelity, and other virtues. This is an errour almost uni- 
versal among those that converse much with dependents, with 
such whose fear or interest disposes them to a seeming 
reverence for any declamation, however enthusiastick, and 
submission to any boast, however arrogant. Having none 
to recall their attention to their lives, they rate themselves 


by the goodness of their opinions, and forget how much 
more easily men may show their virtue in their talk than in 
their actions. 

The tribe is likewise very numerous of those who regulate 
their lives, not by the standard of religion, but the measure 
pf^her men's virtue ; who lull their own remorse with the 
remembrance of crimes more atrocious than their own, and 
seem to believe that they are not bad while another can be 
found worse. 

For escaping these and a thousand other deceits, many 
expedients have been proposed. Some have recommended 
the frequent consultation of a wise friend, admitted to 
intimacy, and encouraged to sincerity. But this appears a 
remedy by no means adapted to general use : for in order 
to securg~the virtue of one, it presupposes more virtue in 
two than will generally be found. In the first, such a desire 
of rectitude and amendment, as may incline him to hear his 
own accusation from the mouth of him whom he esteems, 
and by whom, therefore, he will always hope that his faults 
are not discovered ; and in the second, such zeal and 
honesty, as will make him content for his friend's advantage 
to lose his kindness. 

A long life may be passed without finding' a" friend in 
whose understanding and virtue we can equally confide, 
md whose opinion we can value at once for its justness and 
jincerity. A weak man, however honest, is not qualified to 
judge. A man of the world, however penetrating, is not fit 
X) counsel. Friends are often chosen for similitude of 
nanners, and therefore each palliates the other's failings, 
Decause they are his own. Friends are tender, and unwilling 
:o give pain, or they are interested, and fearful to offend. 

These objections have inclined others to advise, that he 
^ho would know himself, should consult his pnrmipq- - 


remember the reproaches that are vented to his face^ and 
listen for the censures that are uttered in private. For his 
great business is to know his faults, and those malignity will 
discover, and resentment will reveal. But this precept may 
be often frustrated; for it seldom happens that rivals or 
opponents are suffered to come near enough to know our 
conduct with so much exactness as that conscience should 
allow and reflect the accusation. The charge of an enemy 
is often totally false, and commonly so mingled with false- 
hood, that the mind takes advantage from the failure of one 
part to discredit the rest, and never suffers any disturbance 
afterwards frona such partial reports. 

Yet it seems that enemies have been always found by 
experience the most faithful monitors; for adversity has 
ever been considered as the state in which a man most 
easily becomes acquainted with himself, and this effect 
it must produce by withdrawing flatterers, whose business 
it is to hide our weaknesses from us, or by giving loose 
to malice, and licence to reproach ; or at least by cutting 
off those pleasures which called us away from meditation 
on our own conduct, and repressing that pride which too 
easily persuades us that we merit whatever we enjoy. 

Part of Liiesc benefits it is in every man's power to 
procure to himself, b ^^signing proper portions of his 
life to the^xamination of the r^stTand by puttmg himself 
frequently in such a situation,^^ retirement and abstraction, 
as may weaken the influence of external objects. By this 
practice he may obtai nyihe solitude of adversity without 
its melancholy, its instructions without its censures, and 
its sensibility without its perturbations. 

The necessity of setting the world at a distance fronci 
us, when we are to take a survey of ourselves, has sent: 
many from high stations to the severities of ^ raona^tio 


life ; and, indeed, every man deeply engaged in business, 
if all regard to another state be not extinguished, must 
have the conviction, though, perhaps, not the resolution 
of Valdesso, who, when he solicited Charles the Fifth to 
dismiss him, being asked, whether he retired upon disgust, 
answered that he laid down his commission, for no other 
reason but because there ought to be some time for sober 
reflection between the life of a soldier and his death. 

There are few conditions which do not entangle us 
with_su blunafy hopes a tid fears, trom whicti it is necessary 
to be at interva ls disencumbered, that we may place our- 
selves in his presence wiio views effects in their causes, 
and actions in their motives ; that we may, as Chillingworth 
expresses it, consider things as if there were no other 
beings in the world but God and ourselves ; or, to use 
language yet more awful, may commune with our own hearts^ 
and be stilL 

Death, says Seneca, falls heavy upon him who is too 

much known to others, and too little to himself; and 

Pontanus, a man celebrated among the early restorers 

of literature, thought the study of our own hearts of so 

much importance, that he has recommended it from his 

tomb. Sum Joannes Jovianus Pontanus, quern amaverunt 

bona musa, suspexerunt viri probi^ honestaverunt reges 

domini; jam scis qui sim, vel qui potius fuerim ; ego vero 

^, hospeSy noscere in tenebris nequeo, sed teipsum ut noscas 

rogo, "I am Pontanus, beloved by the powers of litera- 

"ture, admired by men of worth, and dignified by the 

"ttionarchs of the world. Thow knowest now who I am, 

Or more properly who I was. For thee, stranger, I who 

3ni in darkness cannot know thee, but I entreat thee to 

"know thyself." 

I hope every reader of this paper will consider hii^iself 


Kas engaged to the observation of a precept, which the 
7 I yisdom and virtue of all ages have concurred to enforce; 
ai precept, dictated by philosophers, inculcated by poets, 
and ratified by saints. 

Saturday y Augtist 4, 1750. 


-Nee dicet, cur ego amicum 

Offendam in nugis ? Ha nuga seria ducent 

In mala derisum semeU HoR. 

** Nor say, for trifles why should I displease 
The man I love ? For trifles such as these 
To serious michiefs lead the man I love, 
If once the flatterer's ridicule he prove." Francis. 

T T has been remarked, that authors are genus irritahih^ a 
•^ generation very easily put out of temper^ and that they 
seldom fail of giving proofs of their irascibility upon the 
slightest attack of criticism, or the most gentle or modest 
offer of advice and information. 

Writers being best acquainted with one another, have 
represented this character as prevailing among men of 
literature, which a more extensive view of the world would 
have shown them to be diffused through all human nature, 
to mingle itself with every species of ambition and desire of 
praise, and to discover its effects with greater or less 
restraint, and under disguises more or less artful, in all 
places and all conditions. 

The quarrels of writers, indeed, are more observed, 
l)ecause they necessarily appeal to the decision of the 
(kuhlick. Their enmities are incited by applauses from 
their parties, and prolonged by treacherous encouragement 


for general diversion ; and when the contest happens to rise 
high between men of genius and learning, its memory is 
continued for the same reason as its vehemence was at first 
promoted, because it gratifies the malevolence or curiosity 
of readers, and relieves the vacancies of life with amusement 
and laughter. The personal disputes, therefore, of rivals in 
wit are sometimes transmitted to posterity, when the grudges 
and heart-burnings of men less conspicuous, though carried 
on with equal bitterness, and productive of greater evils, are 
exposed to the knowledge of those only whom they nearly 
affect, and suffered to pass off and be forgotten among 
common and casual transactions. 

The resentment which the discovery of a fault or folly 
produces, must bear a certain proportion to our pride, and 
will regularly be more acrimonious as pride is more 
immediately the principle of action. In whatever therefore 
we wish or imagine ourselves to excel, we shall always be 
displeased to have our claims to reputation disputed \ and 
more displeased, if the accomplishment be such as can 
expect reputation only for its reward. For this reason it is 
common to find men break out into rage at any insinuation 
to the disadvantage of their wit, who have borne with great 
patience reflections on their morals ; and of women it has 
been always known, that no censure wounds so deeply, or 
rankles so long, as that which charges them with want of 

As men frequently fill their imaginations with trifling 
pursuits, and please themselves most with things of small 
importance, I have often known very severe and lasting 
malevolence excited by unlucky censures, which would have 
fallen without any effect, had they not happened to wound 
a part remarkably tender. Gustulus, who valued himself 
upon the nicety of his palate, disinherited his eldest son for 


telling him that the wine, which he was then commending, 
was the same which he had sent away the day before not fit 
to be drunk. Proculus withdrew his kindness from a 
nephew, whom he had always considered as the most 
promising genius of the age, for happening to praise in 
his presence the graceful horsemanship of Marius. And 
Fortunio, when he was privy counsellor, procured a clerk to 
be dismissed from one of the publick offices, in which he 
was eminent for his skill and assiduity, because he had been 
heard to say that there was another man in the kingdom on 
whose skill at billiards he would lay his money against 

Felicia and Floretta had been bred up in one house, and 
shared all the pleasures and endearments of infancy 
together. They entered upon life at the same time, and 
continued their confidence and friendship \ consulted each 
other in every change of their dress, and every admission of 
a new lover; thought every diversion more entertaining 
whenever it happened that both were present, and when 
separated justified the conduct, and celebrated the 
excellencies, of one another. Such was their intimacy, 
and such their fidelity ; till a birth-night approached, when 
Floretta took one morning an opportunity, as they were 
consulting upon new clothes, to advise her friend not to 
dance at the ball, and informed her that her performance 
the year before had not answered the expectation which her 
other accomplishments had raised. Felicia commended 
her sincerity, and thanked her for the caution; but told 
her that she danced to please herself, and was very Httle 
concerned what the men might take the liberty of saying, 
but that if her appearance gave her dear Floretta any 
uneasiness, she would stay away. Floretta had now 
nothing left but to make new protestations of sincerity 


and affection, with which Felicia was so well satisfied, that 
they parted with more than usual fondness. They still 
continued to visit, with this only difference, that Felipia 
was more punctual than before, and often declared how 
high a value she put upon sincerity, how much she thought 
that goodness to be esteemed which would venture to 
admonish a friend of an errour, and with what gratitude 
advice was to be received, even when it might happen to 
proceed from mistake. 

In a few months, Felicia, with great seriousness, told 
Floretta, that though her beauty was such as gave charms 
to whatever she did, and her qualifications so extensive, 
that she could not fail of excellence in any attempt, yet 
she thought herself obliged by the duties of friendship to 
inform her, that if ever she betrayed want of judgment, it 
was by too frequent compliance with solicitations to sing, 
for that her manner was somewhat ungraceful, and her 
voice had no great compass. It is true, says Floretta, when 
I sung three nights ago at lady Sprightly's, I was hoarse 
with a cold ; but I sing for my own satisfaction, and am 
not in the least pain whether I am liked. However, my 
dear Felicia's kindness is not the less, and I shall always 
think myself happy in so^true a friend. 

From this time they never saw each other without mutual 
professions of esteem, and declarations of confidence, but 
went soon after into the country to visit their relations. 
When they came back, they were prevailed on, by the 
importunity of new acquaintance, to take lodgings in 
different parts of the town, and had frequent occasion, 
when they met, to bewail the distance at which they were 
placed, and the uncertainty which each experienced of 
finding the other at home. 

Thus are the fondest and firmest friendships dissolved^ 


by such openness and sincerity as interrupt our enjoyment 
of our own approbation, or recall us to the remembrance of 
those failings which we are more willing to indulge than to 

It is by no means necessary to imagine, that he who is 
offended at advice, was ignorant of the fault, and resents the 
admonition as a false charge ; for perhaps it is most natural 
to be enraged, when there is the strongest conviction of our 
own guilt. While we can easily defend our character, we 
are no more disturbed at an accusation, than we are alarmed 
by an enemy whom we are sure to conquer ; and whose 
attack, therefore, will bring us honour without danger. But 
when a man feels the reprehension of a friend seconded by 
his own heart, he is easily heated into resentment and 
revenge, either because he hoped that the fault of which he 
was conscious had escaped the notice of others ; or that his 
friend had looked upon it with tenderness and extenuation, 
and excused it for the sake of his other virtues ; or had 
considered him as too wise to need advice, or too delicate 
to be shocked with reproach : or, because we cannot feel 
without pain those reflections roused which we have been 
endeavouring to lay asleep ; and when pain has produced 
anger, who would not willingly believe, that it ought to be 
discharged on others, rather than on himself? 

The resentment produced by sincerity, whatever be its 
immediate cause, is so certain, and generally so keen, that 
very few have magnanimity sufficient for the practice of a 
duty, which, above most others, exposes its votaries to hard- 
ships and persecutions ; yet friendship without it is of very 
little value, since the great use of so close an intimacy is, 
that our virtues may be guarded and encouraged, and our 
vices repressed in their first appearance by timely detection 
and salutary remonstrances. 


It is decreed by Providence, that nothing truly valuable 
shall be obtained in our present state, but with difficulty 
and danger. He that hopes for that advantage which is to 
be gained from unrestrained communication, must some- 
times hazard, by unpleasing truths, that friendship which he 
aspires to merit. The chief rule to be observed in the 
exercise of this dangerous office, is to preserve it pure from 
all mixture of interest or vanity ; to forbear admonition or 
reproof, when our consciences tell us that they are incited, 
not by the hopes of reforming faults, but the desire of show- 
ing our discernment, or gratifying our own pride by the 
mortification of another. It is not indeed certain, that the 
most refined caution will find a proper time for bringing 
a man to the knowledge of his own failings, or the most 
zealous benevolence reconcile him to that judgment, by 
which they are detected ; but he who endeavours only the 
happiness of him whom he reproves, will always have either 
the satisfaction of obtaining or deserving kindness ; if he 
succeeds, he benefits his friend ; and if he fails, he has at 
least the consciousness that he suffers for only doing well. 

Tuesday, August 28, 1750. 

**Quaftquam his solatiis acquiescam, debilitor &* frangor eadem ilia 
kumanitate qua me, ut hoc ipsum permitterem, induxiL Non idea 
tamen velim durior fieri: nee ignore alios hujusmodi casus nihil 
amplius vocare quean damnum; eoque sibi magnos homines £r* 
sapientes videri. Qui an tnagni sapientesque sint, nescio ; homines 
non sunt* Hominis est enim affici dolore, seniire ; resistere tamen, 
^ solatia admittete ; non solatiis non egere" PiA\^. 


** These proceedings have afforded me some comfort in my distress; 
notwithstanding which, I am still dispirited and unhinged by the 
same motives of humanity that induced me to grant such in* 
dulgences. However, I by no means wish to become less sns* 
ceptible of tenderness. I know these kind of misfortunes would 
be estimated by other persons only as common losses, and from such 
sensations they would conceive themselves great and wise men. I 
shall not determine either their greatness or their wisdom ; but I 
am certain they have no humanity. It is the part of a man to be 
affected with grief; to feel sorrow, at the same time that he is to 
resist it, and to admit of comfort.** Earl of Orrery. 

C\^ the passions with which the mind of man is agitated, 
^-^ it may be observed, that they naturally hasten 
towards their own extinction, by inciting and quickening 
the attainment of their objects. Thus fear urges our flight, 
and desire animates our progress j and if there are some 
which perhaps may be indulged till they outgrow the good 
appropriated to their satisfaction, as it is frequently observed 
of avarice and ambition, yet their immediate tendency is to 
some means of happiness really existing, and generally 
within the prospect. The miser always imagines that there 
is a certain sum that will fill his heart to the brim; and 
every ambitious man, like king Pyrrhus, has an acquisition 
in his thoughts that is to terminate his labours, after which 
he shall pass the rest of his life in ease or gaiety, in repose 
or devotion. 

Sorrow is perhaps the only affection of the breast that 
can be excepted from this general remark, and it therefore 
deserves the particular attention of those who have assumed 
the arduous province of preserving the balance of the 
mental constitution. The other passions are diseases 
indeed, but they necessarily direct us to their proper cure. 
A man at once feels the pain and knows the medicine to 
which he is carried with greater haste as the evil which 



nore excruciating, and cures himself by 
Stinct, as the wounded stags of Crete are related 
to have recourse to vulnerary herbs. But for 

; is no remedy provided by nature ; it is often 

by accidents irreparable, awd dwells upon 

have lost or changed their existence ; it 

tat it cannot hope, that the laws of the universe 

repealed; that the dead should return, or the 

be recalled. 
I not that regret for negligence or errour which 

e us to future care or activity, or that repentance 
r which, however irrevocable, our Creator has 

I accept it as an atonement; the pain which 

these causes has very salutary effects, and is 
extenuating itself by the reparation of those mis- 
lat produce iL Sorrow is properly that state of 
I which our desires are fixed upon the past, with- 
5 forward to the future, an incessant wish that 
were otherwise than it has been, a tormenting 
ng want of some enjoyment or possession which 

\, and which no endeavours can possibly regain. 

anguish many have sunk upon some sudden 

of their fortune, an unexpected blast of their 

ir the loss of children or of friends. They have 
; sensibihty of pleasure to be destroyed by a 
, have given up for ever the hopes of substituting 
object in the room of that -which they lament, 
eir lives to gloom and despondency, and worn 
Q unavailing misery. 

is this passion the natural consequence of 
.imd endearment, that, however painful and 
leless, it is justly reproachful not to feel it on 

ions; and so widely and constantly has it 


always prevailed, that the laws of some nations, and the 
customs of others, have limited a time for the external 
appearances of grief caused by the dissolution of close 
alliances, and the breach of domestick union. 

It seems determined by the general suffrage of mankind, 
that sorrow is to a certain point laudable, as the offspring of 
love, or at least pardonable, as the effect of weakness ; but 
that it ought not to be suffered to increase by indulgence, 
but must give way, after a stated time, to social duties, and 
the common avocations of life. It is at first unavoidable, 
and therefore must be allowed, whether with or without our 
choice; it may afterwards be admitted as a decent and 
affectionate testimony of kindness and esteem ; something 
will be extorted by nature, and something may be given to 
the world. But all beyond the bursts of passion, or the 
forms of solemnity, is not only useless, but culpable ; for we 
have no right to sacrifice to the vain longings of affection, 
that time which Providence allows us for the task of our 

Yet it too often happens that sorrow, thus lawfully enter- 
ing, gains such a firm possession of the mind, that it is not 
afterwards to be ejected ; the mournful ideas, first violently 
impressed and afterwards willingly received, so much 
engross the attention, as to predominate in every thought, 
to darken gaiety, and perplex ratiocination. An habitual 
sadness seizes upon the soul, and the faculties are chained 
to a single object, which can never be contemplated but 
with hopeless uneasiness. 

From this state of dejection it is very difficult to rise to 
cheerfulness and alacrity; and therefore many who have 
laid down rules of intellectual health, think preservatives 
easier than remedies, and teach us not to trust ourselves 
with favourite enjoyments, not to indulge the luxury ^ 


fondness, but to keep our minds always suspended in such 
indifference, that we may change the objects about us 
without emotion. 

An exact compliance with this rule might, perhaps, con- 
tribute to tranquillity, but surely it would never produce 
happiness. He that regards none so much as to be afraid 
of losing them, must live for ever without the gentle 
pleasures of sympathy and confidence; he must feel no 
melting fondness, no warmth of benevolence, nor any of 
those honest joys which nature annexes to the power of 
pleasing. And as no man can justly claim more tenderness 
than he pays, he must forfeit his share in that officious and 
watchful kindness which love only can dictate, and those 
lenient endearments by which love only can soften life. He 
may justly be overlooked and neglected by such as have 
more warmth in their heart ; for who would be the friend of 
him, whom, with whatever assiduity he may be courted, and 
with whatever services obliged, his principles will not suffer 
to make equal returns, and who, when you have exhausted 
all the instances of goodwill, can only be prevailed on not 
to be an enemy ? 

An attempt to preserve life in a state of neutrality and 
indifference, is unreasonable and vain. If by excluding joy 
we could shut out grief, the scheme would deserve very 
serious attention ; but since, however we may debar our- 
selves from happiness, misery will find its way at many 
inlets, and the assaults of pain will force our regard, though 
we may withhold it from the invitations of pleasure, we may 
surely endeavour to raise life above the middle point of 
apathy at one time, since it will necessarily sink below it at 

But though it cannot be reasonable not to gain happiness 
for fear of losing it, yet it must be confessed, that in 


proportion to the pleasure of possession, will be for some time 
our sorrow for the loss ; it is therefore the province of the 
moralist to enquire whether such pains may not quickly give 
way to mitigation. Some have thought that the most cer- 
tain way to clear the heart from its embarrassment is to 
drag it by force into scenes of merriment. Others imagine, 
that such a transition is too violent, and recommend rather 
to sooth it into tranquillity, by making it acquainted with 
miseries more dreadful and afflictive, and diverting to the 
calamities of others the regards which we are inclined to fix 
too closely upon our own misfortunes. 

It may be doubted whether either of those remedies will 
be sufficiently powerful. The efficacy of mirth it is not 
always easy to try, and the indulgence of melancholy may 
be suspected to be one of those medicines, which will 
destroy, if it happens not to cure. 

The safe and general antidote against sorrow is employ- 
ment. It is commonly observed, that among soldiers and 
seamen, though there is much kindness, there is little grief; 
they see their friend fall without any of that lamentation 
which is indulged in security and idleness, because they 
have no leisure to spare from the care of themselves ; and 
whoever shall keep his thoughts equally busy, will find 
himself equally unaffected with irretrievable losses. 

Time is observed generally to wear out sorrow, and its 
effects might doubtless be accelerated by quickening the 
succession, and enlarging the variety of objects. 


-»SV tempore longo 

Leniri poterit luctus, tu speme morari^ 

Qui sapiet sibi tempus erit, " Grotius. 

** *Tis long ere time can mitigate your grief; 
To wisdom fly, she quickly brings reliet" F. Lewis. 


Sorrow is a kind of rust of the soul, which every new idea 
contribules in its passage to scour away. It is the putre- 
faction of sti^ant life, and is remedied by exercise and 

Saturday, Sept. 8, 1750. 


'' Crtdtbani hoc grattde nefas, et timrle piatidum, 
Sijuvenis vtiula non assurrexeral, atqus 
Barbate cvitungue ftur, Iic<t ifne videril 
Plvra domifraga, et majores glandis aeervoi. " Jov. 

** And hod not men the hoaiy head revet'ii, 
And boys paid rev'ience whea a man nppeoi'd, 
Both must liave died, though liclicr skins tbey ware, 
And saw mote heaps of acorns in theit store." Creech. 

T HAVE always thought it the business of those who turn 
■*■ their speculations upon the living world, to commend 
the virtues, as well as to expose the faults of their con- 
temporaries, and to confiite a false as well as to support a 
just accusation ; not only because it is peculiarly the 
business of a monitor to keep his own reputation 
untainted, lest those who can once charge him with 
partialily, should indulge themselves afterwards in dis- 
believing him at pleasure ; but because he may find real 
crimes sufficient to give full employment to caution or 
repentance, without distracting the mind by needless 
scruples and vain solicitudes. 

There are certain fixed and stated reproaches that one 
part of mankind has in all ages thrown upon another, which 
are regularly transmitted through continued successions, and 
which he that has once suffered them is certain to use with 
the ume undistinguishing vehemence, when he has ctianged 

1o TH& kAMSLER. 

his station, and gained the prescriptive right of inflicting on 
others what he had formeriy endured himself. 

To these hereditary imputations, of which no man sees 
the justice, till it becomes his interest to see it, very little 
regard is to be shown ; since it does not appear that they 
are produced by ratiocination or inquiry, but received 
implicitly, or caught by a kind of instantaneous contagion, 
and supported rather by willingness to credit, than lability to 
prove, them. 

It has been always the practice of those who are desirous 
to believe themselves made venerable by length of time, to 
censure the new comers into life, for want of respect to 
grey hairs and sage experience, for heady confidence in 
their own understandings, for hasty conclusions upon 
partial views, for disregard of counsels, which their fathers 
and grandsires are ready to aiSbrd them, and a rebellious 
impatience of that subordination to which youth is con- 
demned by nature, as necessary to its security from evils 
into which it would be otherwise precipitated, by the rashness 
of passion, and the blindness of ignorance. 

Every old man complains of the growing depravity of 
the world, of the petulance and insolence of the rising 
generation. He recounts the decency and regularity of 
former times, and celebrates the discipline and sobriety of 
the age in which his youth was passed ; a happy age, which 
is now no more to be expected, since confusion has broken 
in upon the world and thrown down all the boundaries of 
civility and reverence. 

It is not sufficiently considered how much he assumes 
who dares to claim the privilege of complaining; for as 
every man has, in his own opinion, a full share of the 
miseries of life, he is inclined to consider all clamorous 
uneasiness, as a proof of impatience rather than of affliction, 


and to ask, What merit has this man to show, by which he 
has acquired a right to repine at the distributions of nature ? 
Or, why does he imagine that exemptions should be granted 
him from the general condition of man ? We find ourselves 
excited rather to captiousness than pity, and instead of 
being in haste to soothe his complaints by sympathy and 
tenderness, we inquire, whether the pain be proportionate 
to the lamentation ; and whether, supposing the affliction 
real, it is not the effect of vice and folly, rather than 

The quenilousness and indignation which is observed so 

often to disfigure the last scene of life, naturally leads us to 

inquiries like these. For surely it will be thought at the 

first view of things, that if age be thus contemned and 

ridiculed, insulted and neglected, the crime must at least be 

^ual on either part. They who have had opportunities 

®^ establishing their authority over minds ductile and 

^resisting, they who have been the protectors of helpless- 

''^s., and the instructors of ignorance, and who yet retain in 

^^ir own hands the power of wealth, and the dignity of 

^^^^mand, must defeat their influence by their own 

JiJi^^Qnduct, and make use of all these advantages with very 

'^^1« skill, if they cannot secure to themselves an appear- 

^'^^^e of respect, and ward off open mockery, and declared 

^^^ tempt 

*^he general story of mankind will evince, that lawful and 
^^^led authority is very seldom resisted when it is well 
^*^^>^ployed. Gross corruption, or evident imbecility, is 
'^^ Pessary to the suppression of that reverence with which 
^^^ majority of mankind look upon their governors, and on 
^^Ose whom they see surrounded by splendour, and 
"^^*^ed by power. For though men are drawn by their 
^^^^sions into forget fulnesss of invisible rewards and 


punishments, yet they are easily kept obedient to those who 
have temporal dominion in their hands, till their veneration 
is dissipated by such wickedness and folly as can neither be 
defended nor concealed. 

It may, therefore, very reasonably be suspected that the 
old draw upon themselves the greatest part of those insults 
which they so much lament, and that age is rarely despised 
but when it is contemptible. If men imagine that excess of 
debauchery can be made reverend by time, that knowledge 
is the consequence of long life, however idly or thoughtlessly 
employed, that priority of birth will supply the want of 
steadiness or honesty, can it raise much wonder that their 
hopes are disappointed, and that they see . their posterity 
rather willing to trust their own eyes in their progress into 
life, than enlist themselves under guides who have lost their 

There are, indeed, many truths which time necessarily 
and certainly teaches, and which might, by those who have 
learned them from experience, be communicated to their 
successors at a cheaper rate : but dictates, though liberally 
enough bestowed, are generally without effect, the teacher 
gains few proselytes by instruction which his own behaviour 
contradicts ; and young men miss the benefit of counsel, 
because they are not very ready to believe that those who 
fall below them in practice, can much excel them in theory. 
Thus the progress of knowledge is retarded, the world is 
kept long in the same state, and every new race is to gain 
the prudence of their predecessors by committing and 
redressing the same miscarriages. 

To secure to the old that influence which they are 
willing to claim, and which might so much contribute 
to the improvement of the arts of life, it is absolutely 
necessary that they give themselves up to the duties o^ 


declining years ; and contentedly resign to youth its levity, 
its pleasures, its frolicks, and its fopperies. It Is a hope- 
less endeavour to unite the contrarieties of spriog and 
winter ; it is unjust to claim the privileges of age, and 
retain the playthings of childhood The young always 
form magniiicenl ideas of the wisdom and gravity of men, 
whom they consider as placed at a distance from them 
ia the ranks of existence, and naturally look on those 
whom they find trifling with long beards, with contempt 
and indignation, like that which women feel at the 
effeminacy of men. If dotards will contend with boys 
in those performances in which boys must always excel 
them; if they will dress crippled limbs in embroidery, 
endeavour at gaiety with faultcring voices, and darken 
Msemblies of pleasure with the ghastliness of disease, 
ttiey may may well expect those who find their diversions 
obstructed will hoot them away; and that if they descend 
•" competition with youths, they must bear the 
of aiccessful rivals. 

" Lusisti saiK, edisHialh, alque biiisti : 

e had your share 
ime to ([uit the sc 

mictti, of meKl aiid diink ; 
—'tis lime to think." 



Aijoiher vice of age, by which the rising generation 

"'^y be alienated from it, is severity and censoriousness, 

^*t gives no allowance to the failings of early life, that 

• artfulness from childhood, and constancy from 

that is peremptory in every command, and in- 

ttble to every failure. There are many who live merely 

' " binder happiness, and whose descendants can only 

^ of bng life, that it produces suspicion, raaliguity 


peevishness, and persecution : and yet even these tyrants 
can talk of the ingratitude of the age, curse their heirs 
for impatience, and wonder that young men cannot take 
pleasure in their father's company. 

He that would pass the latter part of his life with 
honour and decency, must, when he is young, consider 
that he shall one day be old; and remember, when he 
is old, that he has once been young. In youth, he must 
lay up knowledge for his support, when his powers of 
acting shall forsake him ; and in age forbear to animadvert 
with rigour on faults which experience only can correct. 

Saturday, October 6, 1 750. 

" Improba 

Crescunt divitia^ tamen 

Curta nescio quid semper ahest ret,** HOB. 

** But, while in heaps his wicked wealth ascends, 
He is not of his wish possessed ; 
There's something wanting still to make him hlest." 


A S the love of money has been, in all ages, one of the 
-^ ^ passions that have given great disturbance to the 
tranquillity of the world, there is no topick more copiously 
treated by the ancient moralists than the folly of devoting 
the heart to the accumulation of riches. They who are 
acquainted with these authors need not be told how riches 
excite pity, contempt, or reproach, whenever they arc 
mentioned ; with what numbers of examples the danger 0/ 
large possessions is illustrated ; and how all the powers d 



reason and eloquence have been exhausted in endeavours to 
eradicate a desire, which seems to have entrenched itself 
too strongly in the mind to be driven out, and which, 
perhaps, had not lost its power, even over those who 
declaimed against it,* but would have broken out in the 
poet or the sage,' if it had been excited by opportunity, and 
invigorated by the approximation of its proper object. 

Their arguments have been, indeed, so imsuccessfiil, that 
I know not whether it can be shown, that by all the wit and 
reason which this favourite cause has called forth, a single 
convert was ever made ; that even one man has refused to 
be rich, when to be rich was in his power, from the convic- 
tion of the greater happiness of a narrow fortune; or 
disburthened himself of wealth when he had tried its 
inquietudes, merely to enjoy the peace and leisure and 
security of a mean and unenvied state. 

It is true, indeed, that many have neglected opportimities 
of raising themselves to honours and to wealth, and rejected 
^^ kindest offers of fortune : but however their moderation 
DJay be boasted by themselves, or admired by such as only 
^ew them at a distance, it will be, perhaps, seldom found 
^t they value riches less, but that they dread labour or 
^ger more than others ; they are unable to rouse them- 
*hres to action, to strain in the race of competition, or to 
5^ the shock of contest; but though they, therefore, 
^ine the toil of climbing, they nevertheless wish them- 
'^ves aloft, and would willingly enjoy what they dare not 

Others have retired from high stations, and voluntarily 
^ndemned themselves to privacy and obscurity. But, even 
^ese will not afford many occasions of triumph to the 

• Note v., Appendix. 


philosopher; for they have commonly either quitted that 
only which they thought themselves unable to hold, and 
prevented disgrace by resignation; or they have been 
induced to try new measures by general inconstancy, which 
always dreams of happiness in novelty, or by a gloomy 
disposition, which is disgusted in the same degree with 
every state, and wishes every scene of life to change as soon 
as it is beheld. Such men found high and low stations 
equally unable to satisfy the wishes of a distempered mind, 
and were unable to shelter themselves in the closest retreat 
from disappointment, solicitude, and misery. 

Yet though these admonitions have been thus neglected 
by those, who either enjoyed riches, or were able to procure 
them, it is not rashly to be determined that they are 
altogether without use ; for since far the greatest part of 
mankind must be confined to conditions comparatively 
mean, and placed in situations from which they naturally 
look up with envy to the eminences before them, those 
writers cannot be thought ill employed that have adminis- 
tered remedies to discontent almost universal, by showing, 
that what we cannot reach may very well be forborne, that 
the inequality of distribution, at which we murmur, is for 
the most part less than it seems, and that the greatness, 
which we admire at a distance, has much fewer advantages, 
and much less splendour, when we are . suffered to 
approach it. 

It is the business of moralists to detect the frauds of 
fortune, and to show that she imposes upon the careless eye^ 
by a quick succession of shadows, which will shrink to 
nothing in the gripe ; that she disguises life in extrinsick 
ornaments, which serve only for show, and are laid aside in 
the hours of solitude, and of pleasure; and that when 
greatness aspires either to felicity or to wisdom, it shakes 


aff those distinctions which dazzle the gazer, and awe the 


It may be remarked, that they whose condition has not 

afforded them the light or moral of religious instruction, 
and who collect all their ideas by their own eyes, and digest 
tfaem by their own understandings, seem to consider those 
who are placed in ranks of remote superiority, as almost 
another and higher species of beings. As themselves have 
blown little other misery than the consequences of want, 
they are with difficulty persuaded that where there is 
wealth there can be sorrow, or that those who glitter in 
d^nity, and glide along in affluence, can be acquainted 
with pains and cares like those which lie heavy upon the 
rest of mankind. 

This prejudice is, indeed, confined to the lowest mean- 
ness, and the darkest ignorance ; but it is so confined only 
because others have been shown its folly, and its falsehood, 
because it has been opposed in its progress by history and 
philosophy, and hindered from spreading its infection by 
powerful preservatives. 

Tbe doctrine of the contempt of wealth, though it has 
not been able to extinguish avarice or ambition, or suppress 
that reluctance with which a man passes his days in a state 
of inferiority, must, at least, have made the lower conditions 
IcsB grating and wearisome, and has consequently con- 
tributed to the general security of life, by hindering that 
fiaud and violence, rapine and circumvention, which must 
have been produced by an unbounded eagerness of wealth, 
arising liom an unshaken conviction that to be rich is to be 

Whoever finds himself incited, by some violent impulse 
of passion, to pursue riches as the chief end of being, must 
BUfcir be so much alarmed by the successive admonitions 


of those whose experience and sagacity have recommended 
them as the guides of mankind, as to stop and consider whether 
he is about to engage in an undertaking that will reward 
his toil, and to examine, before he rushes to wealth, through 
right and wrong, what it will confer when he has acquired 
it; and this examination will seldom fail to repress his 
ardour, and retard his violence. 

Wealth is nothing in itself, it is not useful but when it 
departs from us ; its value is found only in that which it can 
purchase, which, if we suppose it put to its best use by 
those that possess it, seems not much to deserve the desire 
or envy of a wise man. It is certain that, with regard to 
corporal enjoyment, money can neither open new avenues 
to pleasure, nor block up the passages of anguish. Disease 
and infirmity still continue to torture and enfeeble, perhaps 
exasperated by luxury, or promoted by softness. With 
respect to the mind, it has rarely been observed, that wealth 
contributes much to quicken the discernment, enlarge the 
capacity, or elevate the imagination; but may, by hiring 
flattery, or laying diligence asleep, confirm errour, and 
harden stupidity. 

Wealth cannot confer greatness, for nothing can make 
that great, which the decree of nature has ordained to be 
little. The bramble may be placed in a hot-bed, but can 
never be an oak. Even royalty itself is not able to give 
that dignity which it happens not to find, but oppresses 
feeble minds, though it may elevate the strong. The world 
has been governed in the name of kings, whose existence 
has scarcely been perceived by any real effects beyond their 
own palaces. 

When therefore the desire of wealth is taking hold of the 
heart, let us look round and see how it operates upon those 
whose industry or fortune has obtained it . When we find 


them oppressed with their own abundance, luxurious without 
pleasure^ idle without ease, impatient and querulous in 
themselves^ and despised or hated by the rest of mankind, 
we shall soon be convinced, that if the real wants of our 
condition are satisfied, there remains little to be sought with 
solicitude, or desired with eagerness. 

Saturday, October 13, 1750. 

" Quid sit pulchrum^ quid turpgy quid utile, quid non^ 
Flentus et melius Chrysippo et Crantore dicit,** HoR, 

** Whose works the beautiful and base contain, 
Of vice and virtue more instructive rules, 
Than all the sober sages of the schools. *' Francis. 

A LL joy or sorrow for the happiness or calamities of 
'^^^ others is produced by an act of the imagination, that 
realizes the event however fictitious, or approximates it 
however remote, by placing us, for a time, in the condi- 
tion of him whose fortune we contemplate ; so that we feel, 
while the deception lasts, whatever motions would be excited 
by the same good or evil happening to ourselves. 

Our passions are therefore more strongly moved, in 
proportion as we can more readily adopt the pains or 
pleasure proposed to our minds, by recognising them as 
once our own, or considering them as naturally incident to 
our state of life. It is not easy for the most artful writer to 
give us an interest in happiness or misery, which we think 
ourselves never likely to feel, and with which we have never 
yet been made acquainted. Histories of the downfall of 
kingdoms, and revolutions of empires, are read with great 


tranquillity; the imperial tragedy pleases common auditots 
only by its pomp of ornament and grandeur of ideas; and 
the man whose faculties have been engrossed by business, 
and whose heart never fluttered but at the rise or fall of the 
stocks, wonders how the attention can be seized, or the 
affection agitated, by a tale of love. 

Those parallel circumstances and kindred images, to which 
we readily conform our minds, are, above ail other writings^ 
to be found in narratives of the lives of particular persons; 
and therefore no species of writing seems more worthy of 
cultivation than biography, since none can be more delight-' 
ful or more useful, none can more certainly enchaia 
the heart by irresistible interest, or more widely diffusa 
instruction to every diversity of condition. 

The general and rapid narratives of history, which involve 
a thousand fortunes in the business of a day, and conaplicate 
innumerable incidents in one great transaction, afford a few 
lessons applicable to private life, which derives its comforts 
and its wretchedness firom the right or wrong management 
of things, which nothing but their frequency makes coa- 
siderable, Parva si nonfiunt guotidU, says Pliuy, and which 
can have no place in those relations which never descend "I 
below the consultation of senates, the motions of armies, 
and the schemes of conspirators. 

I have often thought that there has rarely passed a life of.d 
which a judicious and faithful narrative would not 1 
useful.* For, not only every man has, in the mighty mass J 
of the world, great numbers in the same condition ' 
himself, to whom his mistakes and miscarriages, escapesfl 
and expedients, would be of immediate and apparent use(| 
but there is such an uniformity in the state of i 

' Note VI., Appendin. 


considered apart from adventitious and separable decora- 
tions aud disguises, that there is scarce any possibility of 
good or ill, but is common to Imman kind. A great part of 
the time of those who are placed at the greatest distances 
by fortune, or by temper, must unavoidably pass in the 
same manner ; and though, when the claims of natm'e are 
satisfied, caprice, and vanity, and accident, begin to produce 
disci iminations aud peculiarities, yet the eye is not very 
h-iedfut or quick, which cannot discover the same causes 
Glill terminating their influence in the same eflects, though 
sometimes accelerated, sometimes retarded, or perplexed by 
multiplied combinations. We are all prompted by the 
same motives, all deceived by the same fallacies, all ani- 
mated by hope, obstructed by danger, entangled by desire, 
and seduced by pleasure. 

It is frequently objected to relations of particular lives, 
that they are not distinguished by any striking or wonderful 
vicissitudes. The scholar who passed his life among his 
books, the merchant who conducted only his own affairs, the 
priest, whose sphere of action was not extended beyond that 
of his duly, are considered as no proper objects of pubhck 
regard, however they might have excelled in their several 
stations, whatever might have been their learning, integrity, 
and piety. But this notion arises from false measures of 
excellence and dignity, and must be eradicated by con- 
sidering, that in the esteem of uncorrupted reason, what is 
of most use is of most value. 

It is, indeed, not improper to take honest advantages of 
prejudice, and to gain attention by a celebrated name ; but 
the biismess of the biographer is often to pass slightly over 
thijM: performances and incidents, which produce vulgar 
greatness, to lead the thoughts into domcstick privacies, 
«nd di!>play the minute details of daily life, where exterior 



appendages are cast aside, and men excel each other only 
by prudence and by virtue. The account of Thuanus is, 
with great propriety, said by its author to have been written, 
that it might lay open to posterity the private and i&miliar 
character of that man, cujus ingenium et candorem ex ipHus 
scriptis sunt olim semper miraturi^ whose candour and 
genius will to the end of time be by his writings preserved 
in admiration. 

There are many invisible circumstances which, whether 
we read as inquirers after natural or moral knowledge, 
whether we intend to enlarge our science, or increase our 
virtue, are more important than publick occurrences. Thus 
Sallust, the great master of nature, has not forgot, in his 
account of Catiline, to remark that his walk was now quick^ 
and again slow^ as an indication of a mind revolving 
something with violent commotion. Thus the story of 
Melancthon affords a striking lecture on the value of time, 
by informing us, that when he made an appointment, he 
expected not only the hour, but the minute to be fixed, that 
the day might not run out in the idleness of suspense : and 
all the plans and enterprises of De Witt are now of less 
importance to the world, than that part of his personal 
character, which represents him as careful of his healthy and 
negligent of his life. 

But biography has often been allotted to writers who 
seem very little acquainted with the nature of their task, or 
very negligent about the performance. They rarely afiford 
any other account than might be collected from publick 
papers, but imagine themselves writing a Hfe when they 
exhibit a chronological series of actions or preferments; 
and so little regard the manners or behaviour of their 
heroes, that more knowledge may be gained of a man's real 
character, by a short conversation with one of his servants, 

ihan from a formal and studied narrative, begun with his 
pedigree, and ended with his funeral. 

If now and then they condescend to inform the world of 
particular facts, they are not always so happy as to select the 
most important, I know not well what advantage posterity 
can receive from the only circumstance by which Tickell 
has distinguished Addison from the rest of mankind, Ihe 
hregularity cf his pulse : nor can I think myself overpaid 
for the time spent in reading the life of Malherb, by being 
enabled to relate after the learned biographer, that Malherb' 
had two predominant opinions ; one, that the looseness of 
a single woman might destroy all her boast of ancient 
descent ; the other, that the French be^ars made use very 
improperly and barbarously of the phrase noi/e GenlUman, 
because either word included the sense of both. 

There are, indeed, some natural reasons why these naira- 
ores are often written by such as were not hkely to give 
tDnch instruction or delight, and why most accounts of 
particular persons are barren and useless. If a life be 
delayed till interest and envy are at an end, we may hope 
tat impartiality, but must expect Uitle intelligence ; for the 
incidents which give excellence to biography are of a volatile 
and evanescent kind, such as soon escape the memory, 
and are rarely transmitted by tradition. We know how few 
can pourtray a living acquaintance, except by his most 
jaominent and observable particularities, and the grosser 
icatures of lus mind ; and it may be easily imagined how 
much of this Uttle knowledge may be lost in imparting it, 
and how soon a succession of copies will lose all resem- 
e of the original. 

; biographer writes from personal knowledge, and 

• Note Va., Appendix, 


makes haste to gratify the publick curiosity, there is danger 
lest his interest, his fear, his gratitude, or his tenderness^ 
overpower his fidelity, slnd tempt him to conceal, if not to 
invent. There are many who think it an act of piety to 
hide the faults or failings of their friends, even when they can 
no longer suffer by their detection ; we therefore see whole 
ranks of characters adorned with imiform panegyrick, and 
not to be known from one another, but by extrinsick and 
casual circumstances. ''Let me remember," says Hale^ 
'' when I find myself inclined to pity a criminal, that there 
" is likewise a pity due to the country." If we owe r^ard 
to the memory of the dead, there is yet more respect to be 
paid to knowledge, to virtue, and to truth. 


Tuesday^ October 2^, 1750. 

-Hdbebat sape diucntos^ 

Sape decern servos ; modo reges atquc ieirarchas^ 

Omnia magna loquens : modot sit mihi mensa tripes^ et 

Concha salis puri^ et toga^ qua defendere frigus^ 

Quamvis crassOf queat,** HoB. 

*' Now with two hundred slaves he crowds his train ; 
Now walks with ten. In high and haughty strain 
At morn, of kings and governors he prates ; 
At night, — 'A frugal table, O ye fates, 
' A little shell the sacred salt to hold, 
' And clothes, tho' coarse, to keep me from the cold.* " 


TT has been remarked, perhaps, by every writer who has 
"*" left behind him observations upon life, that no man is 
pleased with his present state ; which proves equally 
unsatisfactory, says Horace, whether fallen upon by chancy 


or chosen with deliberation ; we are always disgusted with 
some circumstance or other of our situation, and imagine 
the condition of others more abundant in blessings, or less 
exposed to calamities. 

This universal discontent has been generally mentioned 
with great severity of censure, as unreasonable in itself, 
since of two, equally envious of each other, both cannot 
have the larger share of happiness, and as tending to 
darken life with unnecessary gloora, by withdrawing our 
minds from the contemplation and enjoyment of that 
happiness which our state affords us, and fixing our 
attention upon foreign objects, which we only behold to 
depress ourselves, and increase our misery by injurious 

When this opinion of the felicity of others predominates 
in the heart, so as to excite resolutions of obtaming, at 
whatever price, the condition to which such transcendent 
privileges are supposed to be annexed; when it bursts into 
action, and produces fraud, violence, and injustice, it is to 
be pursued with ail the rigour of legal punishments. But 
while operating only upon the thoughts, it disturbs none 
but him who has happened to admit it, and, however it may 
interrupt content, makes no attack on piety or virtue, I 
cannot think it so far criminal or ridiculous, but that it may 
deserve some pity, and admit some excuse; 

That al! are equally happy, or miserable, I suppose none 
is sufficiently enthusiastical to maintain ; because though 
wc cannot judge of the condition of others, yet every man 
has found frequent vicissitudes in his own state, and must 
therefore be convinced that life is susceptible of more or 
lets felicity. What then shall forbid us to endeavour the 
aUenition of that which is capable of being improved, and 
\.jpxff at augmentations of good, when wc know it 


possible to be increased, and believe that any particulw 
change of situation will increase it ? 

If he that finds himself uneasy may reasonably make 
efforts to rid himself from vexation, all mankind have a 
sufficient plea for some degree of restlessness, and the 
fault seems to be little more than too much temerity of 
conclusion, in favour of something not yet experienced, 
and too much readiness to believe, that the misery which 
our own passions and appetites produce, is brought upon 
us by accidental causes, and external efficients. 

It is, indeed, frequently discovered by us, that we com- 
plained too hastily of peculiar hardships, and imagined 
ourselves distinguished by embarrassments, in which other 
classes of men are equally entangled. We often change 
a lighter for a greater evil, and wish ourselves restored 
again to the state from which we thought it desirable 
to be delivered. But this knowledge, though it is easily 
gained by the trial, is not always attainable any other 
way; and that errour cannot justly be reproached, which 
reason could not obviate, nor prudence avoid. 

To take a view at once distinct and comprehensive 
of human life, with all its intricacies of combination, 
and varieties of connexion, is beyond the power of mortal 
intelligences. Of the state with which practice has not 
acquainted us we snatch a glimpse, we discern a point, 
and regulate the rest by passion, and by fancy. In this 
inquiry every favourite prejudice, every innate desire, is 
busy to deceive us. We are unhappy, at least less happy 
than our nature seems to admit; we necessarily desire 
the melioration of our lot ; what we desire we very reason- 
ably seek, and what we seek we are naturally eager to 
believe that we have found. Our confidence is often 
disappointed, but our reason is not convinced, and there 


ii no man who does not hope for sometiiing which he 
has not, though perhaps his wishes lie unactive, because 
he foresees the difficulty of atlainment. As among the 
numerous students of Hermetick philosophy, not one 
appears to have desisted from the task of transmutation, 
from conviction of its impossibility, but from weariness 
of toil, or impatience of delay, a broken body, or exhausted 

Irresolution and mutability are often the faults of men 
whose views are wide, and whose imaginations is vigorous 
and excursive, because they cannot confine their thoughts 
within their own boundaries of action, but are continually 
langiing over all the scenes of human existence, and con- 
sequently are often apt to conceive that they fall upon 
new regions of pleasure, and start new possibilities of 
happiness. Thus they are busied with a perpetual 
succession of schemes, and pass their lives in alternate 
el&tion and sorrow, for want of that calm and immoveable 
acquiescence in their condition, by which men of slower 
understandings are fixed for ever to a certain point, or led on 
in che plain beaten track which their fathers and grandsires 
have trod before them, 
I O f two conditions of life equally inviting to the prospect, 

^^Ht vill always have ihe disadvantage which we have 
^^^Kdy tried ; because the evils which we have felt we 
^^^Boi extenuate: and though we have, perhaps from 
^TSrare, the power as well of aggravating the calamity 
which we fear, as of heightening the blessing we expect^ 
yet in those meditations which we indulge by choice, and 
which aie not forced upon the mind by necessity, wc have 
always the art of fixing our regard upon the more pleasing 
iinages, and suffer hope to dispose the lights by which 
c took upon futurity. 


The good and ill of different modes of life are sometimes 
so equally opposed, that perhaps no man ever yet made his 
choice between them upon a full conviction, and adequate 
knowledge; and therefore fluctuation of will is not more 
wonderful, when they are proposed to the election, than 
oscillations of a beam charged with equal weights. The 
mind no sooner imagines itself determined by some prevalent 
advantage, than some convenience of equal weight is dis- 
covered on the other side, and the resolutions which are 
suggested by the nicest examination, are often repented as 
soon as they are taken. 

Eumenes, a young man of great abilities, inherited a 
large estate from a father, long eminent in conspicuous 
emplo3nnents. His father, harassed with competitions, and 
perplexed with multiplicity of business, recommended the 
quiet of a private station with so much force, that Eumenes 
for some years resisted every motion of ambitious wishes ; 
but being once provoked by the sight of oppression, which 
he could not redress, he began to think it the duty of an 
honest man to enable himself to protect others, and 
gradually felt a desire of greatness, excited by a thousand 
projects of advantage to his country. His fortune placed 
him in the senate, his knowledge and eloquence advanced 
him at court, and he possessed that authority and influence 
which he had resolved to exert for the happiness of 

He now became acquainted with greatness, and was in a 
short time convinced, that in proportion as the power of 
doing well is enlarged, the temptations to do ill are multi- 
plied and enforced. He felt himself every moment in 
danger of being either seduced or driven from his honest 
purposes. Sometimes a friend was to be gratified, and 
sometimes a rival to be crushed, by means which his 


conscience could not approve. Sometimes he was forced 

to comply with the prejudices of the publick, and sometimes 

with the schemes of the ministry. He was by degrees 

wearied with perpetual struggles to unite policy and virtue^ 

and went back to retirement as the shelter of innocence, 

persuaded that he could only hope to benefit mankind by a 

blameless example of private virtue. Here he spent some 

years in tranquillity and beneficence; but finding that 

corruption increased, and false opinions in government 

prevailed, he thought himself again summoned to posts of 

publick trust, from which new evidence of his own weakness 

again determined him to retire. 

Thus men may be made inconstant by virtue and by vice, 

by too much or too little thought ; yet inconstancy, however 

<%ufied by its motives, is always to be avoided, because 

We allows us but a small time for inquiry and experiment, 

^d he that steadily endeavours at excellence, in whatever 

^ployment, will more benefit mankind than he that 

hesitates in choosing his part till he is called to the per- 

^^^fnaance. The traveller that resolutely follows a rough 

^<i winding path, will sooner reach the end of his journey, 

^n he that is always changing his direction, and wastes the 

^ours of day-light in looking for smoother groimd, and 

shorter passages. 


Saturday^ October 2"], 1750. 

'* Idem vellCf et idem nolle^ ea demumfirma amicitia est.** 


'* To live in friendship is to have the same deares and the same 

Tl T^HEN Socrates was building himself a house at 
^^ Athens, being asked by one that observed the 
littleness of the design, why a man so eminent would not 
have an abode more suitable to his dignity? he replied, 
that he should think himself sufficiently accommodated, if 
he could see that narrow habitation filled with real friends. 
Such was the opinion of this great master of human life, 
concerning the infrequency of such an union of minds as 
might deserve the name of friendship, that among the 
multitudes whom vanity or curiosity, civility or veneration, 
crowded about him, he did not expect, that very spacious 
apartments would be necessary to contain all that should 
regard him with sincere kindness, or adhere to him with 
steady fidelity. 

So many qualities are indeed requisite to the possibility 
of friendship, and so many accidents must concur to its rise 
and its continuance, that the greatest part of mankind 
content themselves without it, and supply its place as they 
can, with interest and dependence. 

Multitudes are unqualified for a constant and warm 
reciprocation of benevolence, as they are incapacitated fof 


any other elevated excellence, by perpetual attention to 
their interest and unresisting subjection to their passions. 
Long habits may superinduce inability to deny any desire 
or repress, by superior motives, the importunities of any 
immediate gratification, and an inveterate selfishness will 
imagine all advantages diminished in proportion as they are 

But not only this hateful and confirmed corruption, but 
many varieties of disposition, not inconsistent with common 
degrees of virtue, may exclude friendship from the heart. 
Some ardent enough in their benevolence, and defective 
neither in oiEciousness nor liberality, are mutable and 
oncertain, soon attracted by new objects, disgusted without 
offence, and alienated without enmity. Others are soft and 
flexible, easily influenced by reports or whispers, ready to 
catch alarms from every dubious circumstance, and to Lsten 
to every suspicion which envy and flattery shall suggest, to 
follow the opinion of every confident adviser, and move by 
the impulse of the last breath. Some are impatient of 
contradiction, more willing to go wrong by their own judg- 
ment, than to be indebted for a better or a safer way to the 
sagacity of ajiother, inclined to consider counsel as insult, 
and inquiry as want of confidence, and to confer their 
regard on no other terms than unreserved submission, and 
implicit comphance. Some are dark and involved, equally 
caa-ful to conceal good and bad purposes; and pleased 
with producing effects by invisible means, and showing 
their design only in its execution. Others are universally 
communicative, alike open to every eye, and equally profuse 
of their own secrets and those of others, without the 
necessary vigilance of caution, or the honest arts of prudent 
int^rity, ready to accuse without malice, and to betray 
withoat treachet^. Any of these may be useful to the 


community, and pass through the world with the reputation 
of good purposes and uncomipted morals, but they are 
unfit for close and tender intimacies. He cannot properly 
be chosen for a friend, whose kindness is exhaled by its own 
warmth, or frozen by the first blast of slander ; he cannot 
be a useful counsellor who will hear no opinion but his 
own ; he will not much invite confidence whose principal 
maxim is to suspect ; nor can the candour and frankness of 
that man be much esteemed, who spreads his arms to 
humankind, and makes every man, without distinction, a 
denizen of his bosom. 

That friendship may be at once fond and lasting, there 
must not only be equal virtue on each part, but virtue of the 
same kind; not only the same end must be proposed, 
but the same means must be approved by both. We are 
often, by superficial accomplishments and accidental endear- 
ments, induced to love those whom we cannot esteem; 
we are sometimes, by great abilities, and incontestible 
evidences of virtue, compelled to esteem those whom we 
cannot love. But friendship, compounded of esteem and 
love, derives from one its tenderness, and its permanence 
fi-om the other; and therefore requires not only that its 
candidates should gain the judgment, but that they should 
attract the affections ; that they should not only be firm in 
the day of distress, but gay in the hour of jollity ; not only 
useful in exigencies, but pleasing in familiar life; their 
presence should give cheerfulness as well as courage, and 
dispel alike the gloom of fear and of melancholy. 

To this mutual complacency is generally requisite an 
uniformity of opinion, at least of those active and con- 
spicuous principles which discriminate parties in government^ 
and sects in religion, and which every day operate more or 
less on the common business of life. For though great 



mess has, peitaps, been sometimes known to continue 
reeti men eminent in contrary factions ; yet such friends 
are to be shown rather as prodigies than examples, and it is 
no more proper to regulate our conduct by such instances, 
than to leap a precipice, because some have fallen from it 
and escaped with life. 

It caimot but be extremely difficult to preserve private 
kindness in the midst of publick opposition, in which will 
necessarily be involved a thousand incidents extending their 
influence to conversation and privacy. Men engaged, by 
moral or religious motives, in contrary parties, will generally 
look with different eyes upon every man, and decide almost 
every question upon different principles. When such 
occasions of dispute happen, to comply is to betray our 
cause, and to maintain friendship by ceasing to deserve it ; 
to be silent is to lose the happiness and dignity of independ- 
ence, to live in perpetual constraint, and to desert, if not 
to betray : and who shall determine which of two friends 
fihall yield, where neither believes himself mistaken, and 
both confess the importance of the question ? What then 
remains but contradiction and debate ? and from those what 
can be expected, but acrimony and vehemence, the insolence 
of triumph, the vexation of defeat, and, in time, a weariness 
of contest, and an extinction of benevolence ? Exchange of 
endearments and intercourse of civility may continue, 
indeed, as boughs may for a while be verdant, when the 
root is wounded ; but the poison of discord is infused, and 
though the countenance may preserve its smile, the heart is 
hanlening and contracting. 

That man will not be long agreeable whuin we see only 
_, JB times of seriousness and severity ; and therefore, 
[ntain the softness and serenity of benevolence, 

y that friends partake each other's pleasures as well 



as cares, and be led to th-e same diversions by similitude c 
taste. This is, however, not to be considered as equalljf 
indispensable with conformity of principles, because £ 
man may honestly, according to the precepts of Horace 
resign the gratifications of taste to the humour of another 
and friendship may well deserve the sacrifice of pleasure 
though not of conscience. 

It was once confessed to me^ by a painter, that no [ 
fessor of his art ever loved another. This declaration is so 
far justified by the knowledge of life, as to damp the hopes 
of warm and constant friendship between men whom their 
studies have made competitors, and whom every favourer and 
every censurer are hourly inciting against each other. The 
utmost expectation that experience can warrant is, that they 
should forbear open hostilities and secret machinations, 
and, when the whole fraternity is attacked, be able to unite 
against a common foe. Some, however, though few, may 
perhaps be found, in whom emulation has not been able to 
overpower generosity, who are distinguished &om lower 
beings by nobler motives than the love of fame, and cajt 
preserve the sacred flame of friendship from the gusts { 
pride, and the rubbish of interest. 

Friendship is seldom lasting but between equals, c 
where the superiority on one side is reduced by ! 
equivalent advantage on the other. Benefits which caanot 
be repaid, and obligarions which cannot be discharged, i 
not commonly found to increase affection ; they excite 
gratitude indeed, and heighten veneration ; but commonlf 
take away that easy freedom and familiarity of intercourses 
without which, though there may be fidelity, and zeal, and 
admiration, there cannot be friendship. Thus imperfed 
are all earthly blessings; the great effect of friendship i 
beneficence, yet by the first act of uncommon kindness I 


is endangered, like plants that bear their fruit and die.* 
Yet this consideration ought not to restrain bounty, or 
repress compassion ; for duty is to be preferred before con- 
venience, and he that loses part of the pleasures of friend- 
ship by his generosity, gains in its place the gratulation of 
his conscience. 

Tuesday^ November 6y 17 SO. 

" AI d* ikxiZes pScKSffL ipvydSaSf un \6yot, 
KaXQs p\sQsffiP dfifMox, fliWsn d4" EURIP. 

** Exiles, the proverb says, subsist on hope, 
Delusive hope still points to distant good. 
To good that mocks approach." 

TTHERE is no temper so generally indulged as hope; 
^ other passions operate by starts on particular 
occasions, or in certain parts of life; but hope begins 
with the first power of comparing our actual with our 
possible state, and attends us through every stage and 
period, always urging us forward to new acquisitions, and 
holding out some distant blessing to our view, promising us 
either relief from pain, or increase of happiness. 

Hope is necessary in every condition. The miseries of 
poverty, of sickness, of captivity, would, without this 
comfort, be insupportable; nor does it appear that the 
happiest lot of terrestrial existence can set us above the 
want of this general blessing ; or that life, when the gifts of 
nature and of fortune are accumulated upon it, would not 

* Note VI 1 1., Appendix. 


still be wretched, were it not elevated and delighted by the 
expectation of some new possession, of some enjoyment yet 
behind, by which the wish shall be at last satisfied, and the 
heart filled up to its utmost extent 

Hope is, indeed, very fallacious, and promises what 
it seldom gives j but its promises are more valuable 
than the gifts of fortune, and it seldom fiiistrates us 
without assuring us of recompensing the delay by a greats 

I was musing on this strange inclination which every man 
feels to deceive himself, and considering the advantages and 
dangers proceeding from this gay prospect of futiuity, when, 
falling asleep, on a sudden I found myself placed in a 
garden, of which my sight could descry no limits. Every 
scene about me was gay and gladsome^ light with sunshiny 
and fragrant with perfumes; the ground was painted with 
all the variety of spring, and all the choir of nature was 
singing in the groves. When I had recovered from the first 
raptures, with which the confusion of pleasure had for a 
time entranced me, I began to take a particular and 
deliberate view of this delightful region. I then perceived 
that I had yet higher gratifications to expect, and that, at a 
small distance from me, there were brighter fiowers, clearer 
fountains, and more lofty groves, where the birds, which I 
yet heard but faintly, were exerting all the power of melody. 
The trees about me were beautiful with verdure^ and 
fragrant with blossoms \ but I was tempted to leave them 
by the sight of ripe firuits, which seemed to hang only to be 
plucked. I therefore walked hastily forwards, but found, as 
I proceeded, that the colours of the field faded at my 
approach, the fruit fell before I reached it, the birds 
fiew still singing before me, and though I pressed onward 
with great celerity, I was still in sight of pleasures of which 


X could not yet gain the possession, and which seemed to 
■mock my diligence, and to retire as I advanced. 

Though I was confounded with so many alternations of joy 
and grief, I yet persisted to go forward, in hopes that these 
fugitive delights would in time he overtaken. At length I 
saw an innumerable multitude of every age and sex, who 
seemed all to partake of some general felicity ; for every 
cheek was flushed with confidence, and every eye sparkled 
with eagerness ; yet each appeared to have some particular 
and secret pleasure, and very few were willing to comrauni- 
cate their intentions, or extend their concern beyond 
themselves. Most of them seemed, by the rapidity of their 
motion, too busy to gratify the curiosity of a stranger, and 
therefore I was conteot for a while to gaze upon them, with- 
out interrupting them with troublesome inquiries. At last 
I observed one man worn with time, and unable to struggle 
in the crowd ; and therefore, supposing him more at leisure, 
I began to accost him i but he turned from me with anger, 
and told me he must not be disturbed, for the great hour 
of projection was now come when Mercury should lose his 
wings, and slavery should no longer dig the mine for gold. 

I left him, and attempted another, whose softness of mien, 

and easy movement, gave me reason to hope for a more 

agreeable reception ; but he told me, with a low bow, that 

nothing would make him more happy than an opportunity 

of serving me, which he could not now want, for a place 

which be bad been twenty years soliciting would be soon 

vacant From him I had recourse to the next, who was 

deporting in haste to take possession of the estate of an 

unde, who by the course of nature could not live long. He 

^Jbai followed was preparing to dive for treasure in a new- 

^^ferCDted bell ; and another was on the point of discovering 

^^K$ longitude. 

d to I 

riov T 


Being thus rejected wheresoever I applied myself for 
information, I began to imagine it best to desist from 
inquiry, and try what my own observation would discover : 
but seeing a young man, gay and thoughtless, I resolved 
upon one more experiment, and was informed that I was in 
the garden of Hope, the daughter of Desire, and that all 
those whom I saw thus tumultuously bustling round me were 
incited by the promises of Hope, and hastening to seize the 
gifts which she held in her hand. 

I turned my sight upward, and saw a goddess in the 
bloom of youth sitting on a throne : around her lay all the 
gifts of fortune, and all the blessings of life were spread 
abroad to view ; she had a perpetual gaiety of aspect, and 
every one imagined that her smile, which was impartial and 
general, was directed to himself, and triumphed in his own 
superiority to others, who had conceived the same confidenoe 
from the same mistake. 

I then mounted an eminence, from which I had a more 
extensive view of the whole place, and could with less 
perplexity consider the different conduct of the crowds that 
filled it. From this station I observed, that the entrance 
into the garden of Hope was by two gates, one of which 
was kept by Reason, and the other by Fancy. Reason 
was surly and scrupulous, and seldom turned the key 
without many interrogatories, and long hesitation ; but 
Fancy was a kind and gentle portress, she held her gate 
wide open, and welcomed all equally to the district under 
her superintendency : so that the passage was crowded by 
all those who either fear the examination of Reason, or had 
been rejected by her. 

From the gate of Reason there was a way to the throne 
of Hope, by a craggy, slippery, and winding path, called the 
Streight of Difficulty^ which those who entered with the 

permission of the guard endeavonred to climb. But though 
they surveyed the way very carefully before they began lo 
rise, and marked out the several stages of their progress, 
they commonly found unexpected obstacles, and were 
obliged frequently to stop on the sudden, where they 
imagined the way plain and even. A thousand intricaciea 
embarrassed them, a thousand slips threw them back, and a 
thousand pitfalls impeded their advance. So formidable 
were the dangers, and so frequent the miscarriages, that 
many returned from the first attempt, and many fainted in 
the midst of the way, and only a very small number were 
led up to the summit of Hope, by the liand of Fortitude. 
Of these few the greater part, when they had obtained the 
gift which Hope had promised thera, regretted the labour 
vhicfa it cost, and felt in theJr success the regret of disap- 
pointment; the rest retired with their prize, and were led by 
Wisdom to the bowers of Content. 

Turning then towards the gate of Fancv, I could find no 
way to the seat of Hope; but though she sat full in view, 
and held out her gifts with an air of invitatiooi which filled 
every heart with rapture, the mountain was, on that side, 
inaccessibly steep, but so channelled and shaded, that none 
perceived the iropossibihty of ascending it, but each 
imagined himself to have discovered a way to which the 
rest were strangers. Many expedients were indeed tried by 
this industrious tribe, of whom some were making them- 
selves wings, which others were contriving to actuate by the 
perpetual motion. But with all their labour, and all their 
artifices, they never rose above the ground, or quickly fell 
back, nor ever approached the throne of Hope, but con- 
tinued atill to gaze at a distance, and laughed at the slow 
prcigTCis of those whom they saw toiling in the Streighl of 



Part of the favourites of Fancv, when they had entered 
the garden; without making, like the rest, an attempt to 
climb the mountain, turned immediately to the vale of 
Idleness, a calm and undisturhed retirement, from whence 
they could always have Hope in prospect, and to which 
they pleased themselves with believing that she intended 
speedily to descend. These were indeed scorned by all the 
rest; but they seemed very little affected by contempt, 
advice, or reproof, but were resolved to expect at ease the 
favour of the goddess. 

Among this gay race I was wandering, and found them 
ready to answer aE my questions, and willing to communi- 
cate their mirth ; but turning round, I saw two dreadful 
monsters entering the vale, one of whom I knew to be ACE, 
and the other Want. Sport and revelling were now at an 
end, and an universal shriek of affright and distress burst 
out and awaked me. 

Saturday, November lo, 1750. 

" Viviniium rectf, cum ptvfltr fluiima, tunc Ais 
Praciptu eausU, ut Jinguai mamipiarum 

VI lingua malt pars pessima servi. " Juv. 

" Let ua live well ; were it atone for Ihis 
The baneful longiies of servants to despise : 
Slander, that worst of poisons, ever finds 
An easy entrance lo ignoble minds." Hervev. 

THE younger Pliny has very justly observed, that of 
actions that deserve our attention, the roost splendid 
are not always the greatest. Fame, and wonder, and 


applause, are not excited but by external and adventitious 
circumstances, often distinct and separate from virtue and 
heroism. Eminence of station, greatness of effect, and all 
the tivours of fortune, must concur to place excellence 
in publick view ; but fortitude, diligence, and patience, 
divested of their show, gUde unobserved through the crowd 
of life, and suffer and act, though with the same vigour, 
and constancy, yet without pity and without praise. 

This remark may be extended to all parts of life. 
Nothing is to be estimated by ils effect upon common eyes 
and common ears. A thousand miseries make silent and 
invisible inroads on mankind, and the heart feels innumer- 
able throbs, which never break into complaint Perhaps, 
likewise, our pleasures are for the most part equally secret, 
and most are borne up by some private satisfaction, some 
iatemal consciousness, some latent hope, some peculiar 
prospect, which they never communicate, but reserve for 
solitary hours and clandestine meditations. 

The main of life is, indeed, composed of small incidents 
and petty occurrences; of wishes for objects not remote, 
and grief for disappointments of no fatal consequence ; of 
insect vexations which sting us and fly away, impertinences 
which buzz a while about us, and are heard no more; of 
meteoTous pleasures which dance before us and are 
dissipated; of comphments which glide off the soul like 
other musick, and are forgotten by him that gave and him 
that received them. 

Such is the general heap out of which every man is to 

coll his own condition : for, as the chemists tell us, that all 

bodies are resolvable into the same elements, and that the 

^—J^OUndless variety of things arises from the diSerent propoi- 

^Hllpiis of very few ingredients; so a few pains and a few 

^^BButucft are all the materials of hunian life, and of these 


the proportions are partly allotted by Providence, and ijartly 
left to the arrangement of reason and of choice. 

As these arc wcl! or ill disposed, man is for the roost 
part happy or miserable. For very few are involved in 
great events, or have their thread of life entwisted with the 
chain of causes on which armies or nations are suspended; 
and even those who seem wholly busied in publick a&ir^^ 
and elevated above low cares, or trivial pleasures, pass the 
chief part of their time in familiar and domestick s 
from these they came into pnbhck life, to these they are 
every hour recalled by passions not to be suppressed ; in 
these they have the reward of their toils, and to these al 
last they retire. 

The great end of prudence is to give cheerfuhiess to tliose 
hours which splendour cannot gild, and acclamation caniioi 
exhilarate ; those sofl intervals of unbended amusemeDt, b) 
which a man shrinks to his natural dimensions, and throws 
aside the ornaments or disguisesj which he feels in privacy 
to be useless incumbrances, and to lose all effect when they 
become familiar. To be happy at home is the ultimate 
result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and 
labour tends, and of v^hich every desire prompts the 

It is, indeed, at home that every man must be known hj 
those who would make a just estimate either of his virtue o 
felicity ; for smiles and embroidery are alike occasional, aD<L 
the mind is often dressed for show in painted honour s 
fictitious benevolence. 

Every man must have found some whose lives, in every 
house but their own, were a continual series of hypocrisy, 
and who concealed under fair appearances bad qualities 
which, whenever they thought themselves out of the ri 
ot censure, broke out from their restraint, like wtndf 


imprisoneJ in their caverns, and whom every one had 
reason to love, but they whose love a wise roan is chiefly 
solicitous to procure. And there are others who, without 
any show of general goodness, and without the attractions by 
which popularity is conciliated, ar« received among their 
own families as bestowers of liappiness, and reverenced as 
instmctors, guardians, and benefactors. 

The most authentick witnesses of any man's character are 
those who know him in his own family, and see him without 
any restraint or rule of conduct, but such as he voluntarily 
prescribes to himself. If a man carries virtue wilh him into 
his private apartments, and lakes no advantage of unlimited 
power or probable secrecy; if we trace him through the 
round of his time, and find that his character, with those 
allowances which mortal frailty must always want, is uniform 
and regular, we have all the evidence of his sincerity, that 
one man can have with regard to another : and, indeed, as 
hypocrisy cannot be its own reward, we may, without 
besitKtion, determine that his heart is pure. 

The highL-sl panegyrick, therefore, that private virtue can 
recrive, is the praise of servants. For, however vanity or 
insolence may look down with contempt on the suffrage 
of men imdignified by wealth, and unenlightened by 
education, it very seldom happens that they commend or 
blame without justice. Vice and virtue are easily distin- 
guished. Oppression, according to Harrington's aphorism, 
¥rill be felt by those who cannot see it : and, perhaps, 
It falls out very often that, in moral questions, the 
phiiosophers in the gown, and in the livery, differ not so 
mach in their sentiments, as in their language, and have 
equal power of discerning right, though they cannot point it 
ootlo Others with equal address. 

There are very few faults to be committed in solitude, or 



williout some agents, partners, confederates, or witnesses 
and, therefore, the servant must commonly know the s 
of a master, who has any secrets to entrust ; and failJngi) 
merely personal, are so frequently exposed by that securi^ 
which pride and folly generally produce, and so inquisitive^ 
watched by that desire of reducing the inequalities of c 
dition, which the lower orders of the world will always fee( 
that the testimony of a menial domestick can seldom t 
considered as defective for want of knowledge. An 
though its impartiality may be sometimes suspected, it is a 
least as credible as that of equals, where rivalry instigate! 
censure, or friendship dictates palliations. 

The danger of betraying our weakness to our servaotaj 
and the impossibility of concealing it from them, may I 
justly considered as one motive to a regular and irreproacl* 
able life. For no condition is more hateful or despicably 
than his who has put himself in the power of his servant; 
in the power of him whom, perhaps, he has first cornipteci 
by making him subservient to his vices, and whose fidelit| 
he therefore cannot enforce by any precepts of honesty o 
reason. It is seldom known that authority thus acquired, ii 
possessed without insolence, or that the master is not forced 
to confess, by his tameness or forbearance, that he \ 
enslaved himself by some foolish confidence. And hli 
crime is equally punished, whatever part be takes of t 
choice to which he is reduced ; and he is from that btd 
hour, in which he sacrificed his dignity to his passions, u 
perpetual dread of insolence or defamation ; of a contr<^a 
at home, or an accuser abroad. He is condemned to pu( 
chase, by continual bribes, chat secrecy which bribes nev 
secured, and which, after a long course of submissJOB 
promises, and anxieties, he will find violated in a fit of n 
or in a frolick of drunkermess. 


To dread no eye, and to suspect no tongue, is the great 
prerogative of innocence ; an exemption granted only to 
invariable virtue. But guilt has always its horrours and 
solicitudes ; and, to make it yet more shameful and detest- 
ablE^ it is doomed often to stand in awe of those, to whom 
nothing could give influence or weight, but their power of 

Saturday, November 24, 1750. 

" Omnii Atislippum decuit ilaitu, el color, el res, 
Tentanlem maji!ra,ftre preienliinu aguum." Hob. 

" Yel Ariilifpus ev'ty dress b«camc, 
In ev'ry various change of life the same; 
And (hough he aim'd at things of higher kind, 
Vel to the present held an eiiual mind." Fkahcie. 



^^■pHOSE who exalt themselves into the chair of instructioD, 
^^P^' without inquiring whether any will submit to theii 
Uithorily, have not sufliciently considered how much of 
buman life passes in little incidents, cursory conversation, 
slight business, and casual amusements ; andjherefore they 
haTC endeavoured only to inculcate_ the more awful virtues, 
^gboHLc ondescen d ingjo regard those petty ijualities^jfhicb 
grtiF '■"p"'-*ait nn?y by tHeif Irequeucy, and which, though 
ihcy produce no single acts of heroism, nor astonish us by 
great events, yet aie-Cvety momerit exerting^ their influence- - 
iipup_uSiand make the draught of life sweet or bitter by 



imperceptible instillations. They operate unseen alf^l 
unregarded, as change of air makes us sick or hesAhy, 
though we breathe it without attention, and only know the 
particles that impregnate it by their salutary or malignant 

You have shown yourself not ignorant of the value of 
those subaltern endowments, yet have hitherto neglected 
to recom men d good -humour t o the world,^ though a little 
reflection will show you i fcat it is the^g^ of peimr^i^^ 

^^^^^llZ^^^^^ fl]1 that jlHnmq nr plpvatps manVinr^ pi|gfr 

owe its power of jgleasing.r/ Withoutgood humour, learning 
and bravery can only confer that superiority which swells 
the heart of the lion in the desert, where he roars without 
reply, and ravages without resistance. Without good- 
humour, xirtue may awe -by its. dignity, and amaze by its 
brightness ; but must always be yiewed at a 

will scarcely gain a friend or attract an imitator. 

1-H umour inky ^bejjefJhed ii habit of beic^ pleased j* 
a constaSS^and perennial softness of manner, easiness of 
T^roach, an3 suavity of disposition ; Eke tibat which every 
man perceives in himself, when the first transports of new 
felicity have subsided, and Jig ^ thoughts, arr nnly krpf fn 
motipn"^yTi>^low,silCC£ §sion ofs oft impulses. Good-humour 
is a state betw een gaiety and uncon^enrTtke act ofemanation 

nffljT^jnd at 1f>ignrp ^9 ^pgarH th^ prratifiT^atinmyfln nth #>r. 

It is imagined by many, that whenever they aspire to 
please, they are required to be merry, and to show the 
gladness of their souls by flights of pleasantry, and bursts of 
laughter. But though these men may be for a time heard 
with applause and admiration, they seldom delight us long. 
We enjoy them a little, and then retire to easiness and 

Note IX., Appendix. 

B-humour, as tlic eye gazes a while on eminences 
, with the sun, but soon turns aching away to 
e and to flowers. 
f is to ^ooii~hut" y;r m i^ ni mi l r ~rftinn"T to vege- 

1 fai ls to 

3 pain ; the beaters either strain their Acuities to 
:_l£ft_bebind in envy and 
■^Good -humour boasts no faculties which every one - 
rt believe in his own powerjaiid pleases principaE 
It ofTendingJ ~ ~ 

! kiiowii_ tha t_ th e most certain wa^to gve any 
man gle^ure_is^.t0.pei3iiadeJiiaL that.yfluie££ivejlcMure_ 
from him, to encourage him to freedom and confidenee, 
and to avo id any such appear ance of superiority as may 
oyerbe ar and deg ress, hilfl- We see many that by this art 
only spend their days in the midst of caresses, invitations, _, . . 
and civilities; and without any extraordinary qualities or "v V 
attainments, are the universal favourites of both sexes, and 
certainly find a friend in every place. The darlings of tSe\ 
world will, indeed, be generally foujid such as excite neither' 
jealousy nor fear, and are not considered as candidates fon 
any ci»inent degree of reputation, but content theraselvesi 
with common accomplishments, and endeavour rather t« 
lolidi Itindness than to raise esteem ; therefore, in) 
assemblies and places of resort, it seldom fails to ha^n, 
ihai though at the entrance of some particular person, 
every face brightens with gladness and every hand is 
extended in salutation, yet if you pursue him beyond the 
first exchange of civilities, you will find him of very small 
fmportance, and only welcome to the company, as one by 
whom all conceive themselves admired, and with whom any 
one is at liberty to amuse himself when he can find no 




other auditor or companion j as one with vrhom all are a 
ease, who will hear a jest without criticism, and a nanatii 
without contradiction, who laughs with every wit, and yidd 
to every disputer. 

There are many whose vanity always inclines themji 
associate with those from whom ihey have no reason to fc« 
.^r;— mortification ; and there arc times in which the wise an4 
I ^^e'knowing are willing to receive praise without the laboig 
of deserving it, in which the most elev-ated min d is willii " 
to descend, and the most active to be at rest A ll there fore 
are at some hour or another fond of companions whom thej 
can entertain upon easy terms, and who will relieve thfiiS 
from solitude, without condemning them to vigHance's 
caution. AVe are most inclined to love when we E 
ngtbing-l-o fear, and he tha t encourages ug __tQ. pleasa 
ourselves, _will_-ll9l._be. _iQng_wit hout pr eference in out 

g^phgn_Tn thngp whi-.i;f> Ipnrning hr-lrj^ ^jg ^\ tl.P distance 

of pup ils, p r whose wit calls all attention from us, and leaves 
"STvithout importance and without regard. 

It is remarlced by Prince Henry, when he sees Falstal 
lying on the ground, that he could have better spared a bettet 
man. He was well acquainted with the vices and follies irf 
him whom he lamented ; but while his conviction compellei 
him to do justice to superior qualities, his tenderness still 
broke out at the remembrance of Falstaff, of the cheerful 
companion, the loud buffoon, with whom he had passed hil 
time in aU the luxury of idleness, who had gladded him with 
unenvied merriment, and whom he could at once enjoy ai 

You may perhaps think this account of those who s 
distinguished for their good-huraour, not very consist&Qt 
with the praises which I have bestowed upon it But a 
nothing can more evidently show the value of this ( 


10^ I 

tit an tha t it recommends those w ho ar e destitut e of all other 
excellencies, and procures regard to the trifling, friendship 
to the worthless, and affection to the dull. 

Good-humour is indeed generally degraded by the 
Characters in which it is found; for, being considered as a 
dieap and vulgar quality, we find it often neglected by those 
ihat^ having excellencies of higher reputation and brighter 
splendour, perhaps imagine that they have some right to 
gratify themselves at the expense of others, and are to 
demand compliance rather than to practise it. _It_^ is by_ 
some unfortunate mistake that almost all those who have 
any cfi Tin_to_esteem ^r_love,jress their pretensions witE~ 
too little consideration _of_others. This mistake, my own" 
ioterest, as well as my zeal for general happiness, makes me 
desirous to rectify; for I have a friend, who, because he 
knows his own fidelity and usefulness, is never willing to 
sink into a companion : I have a wife whose beauty first 
subdued me, and whose wit confirmed her conquest, but 
whose beauty now serves no other purpose than to entitle 
her to tyranny, and whose wit is only used to justify 

Sorely, nothing can be more unreasonable thanto lose the 
win to ple ase, when we are conscious of the power, or show 
moie cruelty thagr to choose any kind of influence before 
that of kindnafc. He that regards the welfare of others, 
ifaould make nis virtue approachable, that it may be loved 
Kld_EOJUfid ; 3iid he that considers the wants which every; \ 
man feels, or will feel, of external assistance, must rather t 
y ish t o be surrounded by those that love him, than by thosC' 
that admire his excellencies, or soUcit his favours; for 
idxnkaiion c_ea8es with novelty, and .interest sains its end_ 
tod re tires. Ajnan whose great qualities want (he oma-* 
I of superficial attractions, is like a naked mountain 


with mines of gold, which will be frequented only till the 
treasure is exhausted. I am, &a 


Tuesday y December ii, 1750. 

*' Os dignum (Bterno nitidum quodfulgeat auro. 
Si mallet laudare Deum^ cut sordida monstra 
Fratulity et liquidam timeravit crimine vocem,** 


" A golden statue such a wit might claim. 
Had God and virtue rais'd the noble flame ; 
But ah 1 how lewd a subject has he sung 1 
What vile obscenity profanes his tongue 1 " F. Lewis. 

A MONG those whose hopes of distinction, or riches, 
-^^ aiise from an opinion of their intellectual attainments, 
it has been, from age to age, an established custom to 
complain of the ingratitude of mankind to their instructors, 
and the discouragement which men of genius and study 
suffer from avarice and ignorance, from the prevalence of 
false taste, and the encroachment of barbarity. 

Men are most powerfully affected by those evils which 
themselves feel, or which appear before their own eyes j and 
as there has never been a time of such general felicity, but 
that many have failed to obtain the rewards to which they 
had, in their own judgment, a just claim, some offended 
writer has always declaimed, in the rage of disappointment 
against his age or nation ; nor is there one who has not 
fallen upon times more unfavourable to learning than any 
former century, or who does not wish, that he had been 
reserved in the insensibility of non-existence to some 
happier hour, when literary merit shall no longer be 



ipised, and the gifts and caresses of mankind shrill 
recompense the toils of study, and add lustre to the charms 
of wit. 

Many of these clamours are undoubtedly to be considered 
only as the bursts of pride never to be satisfied, as the 
prattle of affectation mimicking distresses unfelt, or as the 
common-places of vanity solicitous for splendour of sen- 
tences, and acuteness of remark. YeL it cannot be denied 
that frequent discontent must proceed from frequent hard- 
ships ; and though it is evident, that not more than one 
age or people can deserve the censure of being more averse 
from learning than any other, yet at all times knowledge 
must have encountered impediments, and wit been morti- 
fied with contempt, or harassed with persecution. 

It is not necessary, however, to join immediately in the 
outcry, or to condemn mankind as pleased with ignorancf^ 
or olways envious of superior abilities. The miseries of 
the learned have been related by themselves ; and since 
tbcy have not been found exempt from that partiaUty with 
which men look upon their own actions and sufferings, we 
may conclmle that they have not forgotten to deck their cause 
with the brightest ornaments and strongest colours. The 
logician collected all his subtilities when they were to be 
employed in his own defence ; and the master of rhetorick 
exerted against his adversary all the arts by which hatred is 
embittered, and indignation inl^amed. 

To beheve no man in his own cause, is the standing and 
perpetual rule of distributive justice. Since therefore, in 
ihc controversy between the learned and their enemies, we 
have only the pleas of one party, of the party more able to 
delude out understandings, and engage our passions, we 
niuu determine our opinion by facts uncontested, and 
evidences on each side allowed to be genuine. 


By this procedure, I know not whether the stadents will 
find their cause promoted, or their compassion which they 
expect much increased. Let their conduct be impartially; 
surveyed ; let them be allowed no longer to direct attemtioa 
at their pleasure, by expatiating on their own deserts ; Id 
neither the dignity of knowledge overawe the judgment^ 
nor the graces of elegance seduce it It will then, perhap^ 
be found that they were not able to produce claims td 
kinder treatment, but provoked the calamities which thej 
suffered, and seldom wanted friends, but when they wai 

That few men, celebrated for theoretick wisdom, 
with conformity to their precepts, must be readily confessedj 
and we cannot wonder that the indignation of mankin»f 
rises with great vehemence against those, who neglect the 
duties which they appear to know with so strong conviction 
the necessity of performing. Yet since no man has power 
of acting equal to that of thinkmg, I know not whether tie 
speculatist may not sometimes incur censures too s 
and by those who form ideas of his life from their knowledp 
of his books, be considered as worse than others, i 
because he was expected to be better, 

He, by whose writings the heart is rectified, the appetita 
counteracted, and the passions repressed, may be consider ' 
as not unprofitable to the great republick of humanit)-, ew 
though his behaviour should not always exemplify his r 
His instructions may diffuse their influence to regions^it 
which it will not be inquired, whether the author be a 
an ater, good or bad ; to times, when all his faults and al 
his foUies shall be lost in forgctfulness, among things of U 
concern or importance ta the world ; and he may kindle i< 
thousands and ten thousands that flame which burnt bu 
dimly in himself, through the fumes of passion, or tb 


113 ' 

^^amps of cowardice. The vicious moralist may be k 
^idered as a taper, by which we are lighted through the 1 
■sbyrinth of complicated passions, he extends his radiance ] 
further than his heat, and guides all that are within vi 
*DUt bums only those who make too near approaches. 

Yet since good or harm must be received for the most 
Jart from those to whom we are familiarly known, he whose 
■rices overpower his virtues, in the compass to which his 
■vices can extend, has no reason to complain that he meets 
not with affection or veneration, when those with whom 
he passes his life are more corrupted by his practice 
than enlightened by his ideas. Admiration begins where J 
acquaintance ceases; and hia favourers are distant, but his J 
eDemiea at hand. 

Yet many have dared to boast of neglected merit, and to 
diallenge theh age for cruelty and folly, of whom it cannot 
be alleged that they have endeavoured to increase the 
wisdom or virtue of their readers. They have been at once 
[MufUgate in their lives, and licentious in their compositions j 
have not only forsaken the paths of virtue, but attejiipted to 
lure others after them. They have smoothed the road of J 
perdition, covered with flowers the thorns of guilt, and I 
tsught temptation sweeter notes, softer blandishments, and I 
stronger allurements. 

It has been apparently the settled purpose of some 
vriteis, whose powers and acquisitions place them high 
in the rank of literature, to set fashion on the side of 
wickedness ; to recommend debauchery and lewdness, by 
associating them with qualities most likely to dazzle the 
tUsoemment, and attract the affections ; and to show 
innocence and goodness with such attendant weaknesses 
U necessarily expose them to contempt and derision. 

Such naturally found intimates among the corrupt, the 

^Such natui 

114 ^^^ RAMBLER. 

thoughtless, and the intemperate ; passed their lives amidst 
the levities of sportive idleness, or the warm professions 
of drunken friendship; and fed their hopes with the 
promises of wretches, whom their precepts had taught 
to scoff at truth. But when fools had laughed away their 
sprightliness, and the languors of excess could no longer 
be relieved, they saw their protectors hourly drop away, 
and wondered and stormed to find themselves abandoned. 
Whether their companions persisted in wickedness^ ot 
returned to virtue, they were left equally without assistance ; 
for debauchery is selfish and negligent, and from virtue 
the virtuous only can expect regard. 

It is said by Florus of Catiline, who died in the midst 
of slaughtered enemies, that his death had been illustrious^ 
had it been suffered for his country. Of the wits who have 
languished away life under the pressures of poverty, or 
in the restlessness of suspense, caressed and rejected, 
flattered and despised, as they were of more or less use 
to those who stiled themselves their patrons, it might be 
observed, that their miseries would enforce compassion, 
had they been brought upon them by honesty and 

The wickedness of a loose or profane author is more 
atrocious than that of the giddy libertine, or drunken 
ravisher, not only because it extends its effects wider, as 
a pestilence that taints the air is more destructive than 
poison infused in a draught, but because it is committed 
with cool deliberation. By the instantaneous violence of 
desire, a good man may sometimes be surprised before 
reflection can come to his rescue; when the appetites 
have strengthened their influence by habit, they are not 
easily resisted or suppressed ; but for the frigid villany 
of studious lewdness, for the calm malignity of laboured 


ipiety, what apology can be invented? Wliat punish- 

ent can be adequate to the crime of him who retires 
to solitudes for the refinement of debauchery ; who tortures 
his fancy, and ransacks his memory, only that he may 
leave the world less virtuous than he found it; that he 
may intercept the hopes of the rising generation; and 
Spread snares for the soul with more dexterity ? 

What were their motives, or what their excuses, is 
below the dignity of reason to examine. If having extin- 
guished in themselves the distinction of right and wrong, 
tiiey were insensible of ihe mischief which they promoted, 
ihey deserved to be hunted down by the general compact, 
as no longer partaking of social nature ; if influenced by 
the corruption of patrons, or readers, they sacrificed their 
own convictions to vanity or interest, they were to be 
abhorred with more acrimony than be that murders for 
pay; since they committed greater crimes without greater 

Of him, to whom muck is given, much shall hi required. 
Those, whom God has favoured with superior faculties 
and made eminent for quickness of intuition, and accuracy 
of distinctions, will certainly be regarded as culpable in 
bis eye, for defects and devialions which, in souls less 
enlightened, may be guiltless. But, surely, none can think 
without hoiror on that man's condition, who has been 
more wicked in proportion as he had more means of 
excelling in virtue, and used the light imparted irom 
heaven only to embellish folly, and shed lustre upon crimes, 


Tuesday, January 15, 1751. 

" Inindus^ iracunduSy tners, vtnosus, amat&r^ 
Nemo adeoferus est, ut turn mitescere possit, 
Si niodo cuUura patienUm c&mmodet aurem,** HoR. 

•* The slave to envy, anger, wine, or love, 
The wretch of sloth, its excellence shall prove ; 
Fierceness itself shall hear its rage away. 
When listening calmly to th' instructive lay." 


'X'HAT few things are so liberally bestowed, or squandered 
^ with so little effect, as good advic e, has Been generaJly 
observeffj" and many sage "pbsltions'^ve been advanced 
concerning the reasons of this complaint, and the means of 
removing it It is indeed an important and noble inquiry, 
for little would be wantiog to Jthe h appiness of life, if every 
man could conform to the right as soo n as he was shoim 

This perverse neglect of the most salutary precepts, and 
stubborn resistance of the most pathetick persuasion, is 
usually imputed to him by whom the counsel is received, 
and we often hear it mentioned as a sign of hopeless 
depravity, that though good advice was given, it has 
wrought no reformation* 

Others, who imagine themselves to have quicker sagacity 
and deeper penetration, have found out that the inefficacy 
of advice is usually the fault of the counsellor, and rules 
have been laid down, by which this important duty may be 
successfully performed : We are directed by what tokens to 
discover the favourable moment at which the heart is 


dispraed for the operation of truth and reason, with what 
address to administer, and with what vehicles to disguise 
i)u cathartieks of the soul. 

But, notwithstanding this specious expedient, we find the 
world yet in the same state : advice is still given, but still 
received with disgust; nor has it appeared that the 
bitterness of the medicine has been yet abated, or its power 
increased, by any methods of preparing it 

If we consider the manner in which those who assume 
the office of directing the conduct of others execute their 
undertaking, it mil! not be very wonderfijl that their labours, 
however zealous or rtffectionate, are frequently useless. For 
.l!dl8tis_the. advice that is commonly given? A few general 
i gaxim s, enforced witli vehemence and inculcated with 
importunity, but failing for want of particular reference and 
imm ediate application. 

Itjsjiotoften that any man can have so much knowledge 
o f anothe r, as is nece^ary to nia'Re instruction useruT T We~ _ 
are someHiaes. not ourselves conscious of the original 
motives of our aaions, and wlien we know them, our first 
care is to hide them from the sight of others, and often 
from those most diligently, whose superiority either of 
power or understanding may entitle them to inspect our hvesj 
it. is ibcrefoie. YC^-probable that he who endeavours .the. 
ctire of our iatellectual maladies, mistakes their cause ; apj 
that his prescriBtigns^amil nothing^ because -he knows not 
which of the passions or desires is vitiated. 

Advice, as it always gives a temporary appearance of 
superiority, can never be very grateful, even when it is most 
_n^essary or most-judicious. But for the same reason every 
pne is eager to in^.tcucl his neighbours.. To be wise or to 
be virtuous, is to buy dignity and importance at a high price ; 
bat wUea nothing is necessary to elevation but detection ol 


the folliea or the faults of others, no man is so insensible W 
the voice of tame as to linger on the ground. 

" Tentanda via tit, qua ms quaque pcisim 

TalUrc hume, viitm-quc vir&m velitare per era," ViRG. 

" New ways 1 must allempl, my (^oveUiog name 
To raise nloft, and wing my flight to fame." DKViieN. 

Vanity is so frequently ihe appajent motive of flf'^'^r 
that_we, for the most part, summon our powers to op pose it 
without any very accurate inquiry whether it~is n^it^ It is 
sufficient that another is growing great in his own ej^ at 
our expense, and assumes authority over us without our 
permission ; for many would contentedly suffer the consc:- 
q^uaices of their own mistakes, rather than the Ins olence oF 
him who triumphs as their deliverer. 

~Il is, indeed, seldom found that any advantages are 
enjoyed with that moderation whicli the uncertainty of all 
hum an good so powerfully enforces; and^.therefiate- th*- 
adviser may justly suspect, that he has inflamed the ^____ 
tion which he laments by arrogance and supercIlSaisness-^ 
He may suspect, but needs not hastily to condemn himself, 
for be can rarely be certain that the softest language qrmosl 
humble diffidence would have escaped resentment j_since 
scarcely any degree of circumspection can prevent or obviate 
the rage with which the slothful, the impotent^ and the 
unsuccessful, vent their discontent upon those that excel 
them. Modesty itself, if it is praised, will be envied; and 
there are minds so impatient of inferiority, that their 
gratitude is a species of revenge, and they retimi benefits, 
not because recompence is a pleasure, but because obligation 
is a [lain. 

The number of those whom the love of themselves has 
thus far corrupted, is perhaps not great ; but there are feir. 


eo free from vanity, as ii^Q tJs dict3^.te_t9 . ihose. whojviU Jie^ 
their instructions with a visible sense of their oT?n. 1 
cenccj and few to whom it is not unpleasing to receivej 
documents, however tenderly and cautiously delivered, orl 
who are not willing to raise themselves from pupilage, by J 
disputing tRe propositions of their teacher. 

It was the maxim, I think, of Alphonsus of Arragon,* thatl 
dtad counseilors are safest The grave puts an end to flattery 
and artifice, and the.infcmiiltion that we r eceiv e from books ' 
B-pmeJroill-interest,-fear,-or ambitioQ. Dead-COUnscllors 
are l ikewise most instructive ; because they are heard wiL^ 
patience and with reverence. We are not unwilling to 
believe that man wiser than ourselves, from whose abilities 
we may receive advantage, without any danger of rivalry ct 
o ppositi on, and who affords us the light of H5 'experience^ 
without hurting our eyes by flashes of insolence. 

By ihe consultation of books, whether of dead or living^ 
amb ors, many" [einpfations to petulance and. opposition/! 
■U tich occ ur in oral conferences, are avoided. An autho^ 
cannot obtrude his services unasked, nor can be often 
suspected of any malignant intention to insult his readers 
with his knowledge or his wit. Yet so prevalent is thej 
luibit of comparing ourselves with others, while ihey remain 
within the reach of our passions, that books are seldom read 
with complete impartiality, but by those from whom the 
writer is placed at such a distance that his life or death is 

- Wf t^e fhjit vohimps maybe perused, and perused with 
aOCTtion. to little eiiecLiand that itiaxirns"or"prudence7_"or 
gigciplea of virtue, may be treasured in the memory wiilumt 
mdog Uie conducL Of the numbers that pass their 

jBAundog tiii^ CI 

ex.. App-^nJi. 


lives among books, very few read to be made w 
apply any general reproof of vice to themselves, or try their 
own manners by axioms of justice. They purpose either tc 
consume those hours for which they can find no other 
amusement, to gain or preserve that respect which learning 
has always obtained ; or to gratify their curiosity with 
knowledge, which, like treasures buried and forgotten, is of 
no use to others or themselves. 

" The preacher (says a French author) may spend an hour- 
"in explaining and enforcing a precept of religion, without 
" feeling any impression from his own performance, because 
" he may have no further design than to fill up his hour." 

i Student may easily exhaust his life in comparing divinea 
and moralists, without any practical regard to morality oi! 
religionj^Jie may be learning not to live, but to reason ; he 
iiiay regard only the elegance of style, justness of argument 
and accuracy of method ; and may enable himself to criticise 
with judgment, and dispute with subtilty, while the chie/ 
use of his volumes is unthought of, his mind is unaffected,, 
and his life is unreformed. 

But though truth and virtue are thus frequently defeated 
by pride, obstinacy, or folly, we are not allowed to desert 
them ; for whoever can furnish arms which they hitherto 
liive not employed, may enable them to gain some hearli J 
which would have resisted any other method of attack. F 
i£very man of genius has some arts of fixing the attention J 
peculiar to himself, by which, honestly exerted, he id^>I 
benefit mankind ; for the arguments for purity of life fail ^ I 
their due influence, not because they have been considered \ 
and confuted, but because they have been passed over J 
without consideration. To the position of Tully, thai if I 
Virtue could be seen, she must be loved, may be added, " 
that if Truth could be heard, she must be obeyed.. 

I hi 



Tuesday. January 22, 1751. 

" Dulce est daipert ii. 

3 is well foi^ot." 

ICE, whom there is no reason to suspect of being a | 
vourer of idleness or libertinism, has advanced, that ' 
hopes to employ any part of his time with efficacy 
- ,-B-Jur, must allow some of it to pass in trifles. It is 
"^Jond the powers of humanity to spend a whole life in 
Profound study and intense meditation, and the moat 
'•gOTOus exaciers of industry and seriousness have appointed 
**0iir3 for relaxation and amusement. 

It is certain, that, with or without our consent, many of 
the few moments allotted us will slide imperceptibly away, 
and that the mind will break, from confinement to its stated 1 
task, into sudden excursions. Severe and connected 
Mlcntion is preserved but for a short time; and when a 
man shuts himself up in his closet, and bends his thoughts 
lo the discussion of any abstruse question, he will find his 
Realties continually stealing away to more pleasing enter- 
tainments. He often perceives himself transported, he 
knows not how, to distant tracts of thought, and returns to 
his first object as from a dream, without knowing when 
he forsook it, or how long he has been abstracted from it. 

It has been observed that the most studious are nc 
always the most learned. There is, indeed, no great diffi- 1 
culty in discovering that this difference of proficiency may | 
arise from the difference of intellectual powers, of the choice 1 



of books, or the convenience of information. But I believe 
it likewise frequently happens that the most recluse are not 
the most vigorous prosecutors of study. Many impose upon 
the world, and many upon themselves, by an appearance of 
severe and exemplary diligence, when they, in reality, give 
themselves up to the luxury of fancy, please their minds with 
regulating the past, or planning out the future ; place 
themselves at will in varied situations of happiness, and 
slumber away their days in voluntary visions. In the 
journey of life some are left behind, because they are 
naturally feeble and slow ; some because they miss the way, 
and many because they leave it by choice, and, instead of 
pressing onward with a steady pace, delight themselves with 
momentary deviations, turn aside to pluck every flower, and 
repose in every shade. 

There is nothing more fatal to a man whose business is to 
think, than to have learned the art of regaling his mind with 
those airy gratifications. Other vices or follies are restrained 
by fear, reformed by admonition, or rejected by the con» 
viction which the comparison of our conduct with that of 
others may in time produce. But this invisible riot of the 
mind, this secret prodigality of being, is secure from 
detection, and fearless of reproach. The dreamer retires 
to his apartments, shuts out the cares and interruptions of 
mankind, and abandons himself to his own fancy; new 
worlds rise up before him, one image is followed by another, 
and a long succession of delights dances round him. He is 
at last called back to life by nature, or by custom, and 
enters peevish into society, because he cannot model it to 
his own will. He returns from his idle excursions with the 
asperity, though not with the knowledge of a student, and 
hastens again to the same felicity with the eagerness of » 
man bent upon the advancement of some favourite science. 



The infatuation strengthens by degrees, and, h'ke the poison 
of opiates, weakens his poweis, without any external symptom 
of malignity. 

It happens, indeed, that these hypocrites of learning are 
in time detected, and convinced by disgrace and disappoint- 
ment of the difference between the labour of thought, and 
the sport of musing. But this discovery is often not made 
tJU it is too !ate to recover the time that has been fooled 
away. A thousand accidents may, indeed, awaken drones 
to a more early sense of their danger and their shame. But 
Ibey who are convinced of the necessity of breaking from 
Ihis habitual drowsiness, too often relapse in spite of Iheir 
resolution ; for these ideal seducers are always near, and 
I neither any particularity of time nor place is necessary to 
I thor influence ; they invade the soul without warning, and 
I have often charmed down resistance before their approach 
I fe perceived or suspected, 

"ITiis captivity, however, it is necessary for every man to 
Ifeak, who has any desire to be wise or useful, to pass his 
Ife with the esteem of others, or to look back with 
I Sltia&cticn from his old age upon his earlier years. In order 
") regain liberty, he must find the means of flying from 
Winself; he must, in opposition to the Stoick piecept, teach 
ols desires to fix upon external things ; he must adopt the 
]0y5 and the pains of others, and excite in his mind the 
*nit of social pleasures and amicable communication. 
It 13, perhaps, not impossible to promote the cure of this 
I Olenial malady, by close application to some new study, 
Wlich may pour in fresh ideas, and keep curiosity in 
P«pttual motion. But study requires solitude, and solitude 
is i state dangerous to those who are too much accustomed 
to sink into themselves. Active employment or publick 
pleasure is generally a necessary part of this intellectual 




regimen, without which, though some remission maj be 
obtained, a complete cure will scarcely be effected. 

This is a formidable and obstinate disease of the intellect) 
of which, when it has once become radicated by time, the 
remedy is one of the hardest tasks of reason and of virtuft 
Its slightest attacks, therefore, should be watchfulif 
opposed; and he that finds the frigid and narcotick infec- 
tion beginning to seize him, should turn his whole atteDtioa| 
gainst it, and check it at the first discovery by prope 

The great resolution to be formed, when happiness ai 
virtue are thus formidably invaded, is, that no part of li 
be spent in a state of neutrality or indifference ; but tb 
some pleasure be found for every moment that is ni 
devoted to labour ; and that, whenever the necessoi 
business of life grows irksome or disgusting, an immediaB 
transition be made to diversion and gaiety. 

After the exercises which the health of the body requires! 
and which have themselves a natural tendency to actuati 
and invigorate the mind, the most eligible amusement of i 
rational being seems to be that interchange of thoughH 
which is practised in free and easy conversation ; frfiere 
suspicion is banished by experience, and emulation b] 
benevolence ; where every man speaks with no otha 
restraint than unwillingness to offend, and hears with M 
other disposition than desire to be pleased. 

There must be a time in which every man trifles ; and till 
only choice that nature offers us, is, to trifle in company O 
alone. To join profit with pleasure, has been an oU 
precept among men who have had very different concep 
tions of profit. All have agreed that our amusemei 
should not terminate wholly in the present moment, b 
contribute more or less to future advantage. He tb 

amuses himself among well chosen companions, can scarcely 
fail to receive, ftom the most careless and obstreperous 
merriment which virtue can allow, some useful hints ; nor 
can converse on the most familiar topicks, without some 
casual information. The loose sparkles of thoughtless wit 
may give new light to the mind, and the gay contention for 
paradoxical positions rectify the opinions. 

This is the time in which those friendships that give 
happiness or consolation, relief or security, are generally 
formed. A wise and good man is never so amiable as in 
his unbended and familiar intervals. Heroick generosity, 
or philosophical discoveries, may compel veneration and 
respect, but love always implies some kind of natural or 
voluntary equality, and is only to be excited by that levity 
and cheerfulness which disencumber all minds from awe 
and solitude, invite the modest to freedom, and exalt 
the timorous to confidence. This easy gaiety is certain to 
pleas^ whatever be the character of him that exerts it ; if 
oar superiors descend from their elevation, we love them 
for lessening the distance at which we are placed below 
tbetn ; and inferiors, from whom we can receive no lasting 
■dvantage, will always keep our affections while their 
Sprighdiness and mirth contribute to our pleasure. 

Every man finds himself differently affected by the sight 
of fortresses of war, and palaces of pleasure ; we look on 
the height and strength of the bulwarks with a kind of 
gloomy satisfaction, for we cannot think of defence without 
admitting images of danger ; but we range delighted and 
Jocund through the gay apartments of the palace, because 
nothing is impressed by them on the mind but joy and 
festivity. Such is the difference between great and amiable 
dhaucteis; with protectors we are safe, with companions 
E happy. 


Saturday, March 9, 1751. 

" Ipsa qtioque assiduo lahuntur tempora motu 
Non secus acflumen : neqtie enim consistere flumen, 
Nee levis hora potest ; sed ut unda impellitur uttdA, 
Urgeturque prior veniente, urgetque priorem, 
Tempora sic fugiunt par iter, pariterque sequuntur.** 


'* With constant motion as the moments glide. 
Behold in running life the rolling tide ! 
For none can stem by art, or stop by pow'r. 
The flowing ocean, or the fleeting hour : 
But wave by wave pursued arrives on shore, 
And each impell'd behind impels before : 
So time on time revolving we descry ; 
So minutes follow, and so minutes fly." 


" T IFE," says Seneca, "is a voyage, in the progress 
"^-^ " of which we are perpetually changing our scenes : 
"we first leave childhood behind us, then youth, then 
" the years of ripened manhood, then the better and more 
" pleasing part of old age." The perusal of this passage 
having incited in me a train of reflections on the state 
of man, the incessant fluctuation of his wishes, the gradual 
change of his disposition to all external objects, and the 
thoughtlessness with which he floats along the streank- 
of time, I sunk into a slumber amidst my meditations^ 
and, on a sudden, found my ears filled with the tumulCJ 
of labour, the shouts of alacrity, the shrieks of alaniB-# 
the whistle of winds, and the dash of waters. 



My astonishment for a time repressed my curiosity; 
but soon recovering myself so far as to inquire whither 
we were going, and wlijit was the cause of such clamour 
and confusion, I was told that we were launching out into 
the ocean of life ; that we had already passed the streights 
of infancy, in which multitudes had perished, some by 
the weakness and fragility of their vessels, and more by 
ihe folly, perverseness, or negligence, of those who under 
took to steer them ; and that we were now on the main . 
sea, abandoned to the winds and billows, without any I 
other means of security than the care of the pilot, whom [ 
't was always in our power to choose among great numbers 
Uiat offered their direction and assistance. 

I then looked round with anxious eagerness; and first | 
Itning my eyes behind me, saw a stream flowing through 
*owery islands, which every one that sailed along seemed 
to behold with pleasure; but no sooner touched, than 
*>e current, which, though not noisy or turbulent, was 
'ct irresistible, bore him away. Beyond these islands all 
*U3 darkness, nor could any of the passengers describe 
■*e shore at which he first embarked. 

Sribre me, and on each side, was an expanse of waters 
"^^ilently agitated, and covered with so thick a mist, that 
*»c most perspicacious eye could see but a little way. 
■t appeared to be full of rocks and whirlpools, for many 
'•ink unexpectedly while they were courting the gale 
*ilh full sails, and insulting those whom they had left 
*ohind. So numerous, indeed, were the dangers, and 
"O thick the darkness, that no caution could confer security. 
• ct there were many, who, by false intelligence betrayed ■ 
'*>«it followers into whirlpools, or by violence pushed 
'Ivjse whom they found in their way against the rocks. 
Tbc current was invariable and insurmountable ; but 



though it was impossible to sail against it, or 
return to the place that was once passed, yet it was n 
so violent as to allow no opportunities for dexterity 
courage, since, though none could retreat back from 
danger, yet they might often avoid it by oblique 

It was, however, not very common to steer with much 
care or prudence ; for by some universal infatuation, every 
man appeared to think himself safe, though he saw his 
consorts every moment sinking around him ; and no soonei 
had the waves closed over them, than their fate and theii 
misconduct were forgotten; the voyage was pursued with 
the same jocund confidence; every man congratulated 
himself upon the soundness of his vessel, and believed 
himself able to stem the whirlpool in which his friend 
was swallowed, or glide over the rocks on which he was 
dashed : nor was it often observed that the sight of a 
wreck made any man change his course: if he turned 
aside for a moment, he soon forgot the rudder, and left 
himself again to the disposal of chance. 

This negligence did not proceed from indifference, or 
from weariness of their present condition ; for not one 
of those who thus rushed upon destruction, failed, when 
he was sinking, to call loudly upon his associates f(tf 
that help which could not now be given him ; and many 
spent their last moments in cautioning others against the 
folly by which they were intercepted in the midst of their 
course. Their benevolence was sometimes praised, but 
their admonitions were unregarded. 

The vessels in which we had embarked being confessedly 
unequal to the turbulence of the stream of life^ were 
visibly impaired in the course of the voyage; so that 
every passenger was certain, that how long soever he 


^ight, by favourable accidents, or by incessant vigilance, 
^^ preserved, he must sink at last. 

This necessity of perishing might have been expected 
^o sadden the gay, and intimidate the daring, at least to 
^eep the melancholy and timorous in perpetual torments, 
and hinder them from any enjoyments of the varieties 
and gratifications which nature offered them as the solace 
of their labours : yet, in effect, none seemed less to 
expect destruction than those to whom it was most 
dreadful; they all had the art of concealing their danger 
from themselves; and those who knew their inability to 
bear the sight of the terrours that embarrassed their way, 
took care never to look forward, but found some amuse- 
ment for the present moment, and generally entertained 
themselves by playing with Hope, who was the constant 
associate of the voyage of life. 

Yet all that Hope ventured to promise, even to those 
whom she favoured most, was, not that they should 
escape, but that they should sink last ; and with this 
promise every one was satisfied, though he laughed at 
the rest for seeming to beUeve it Hope, indeed, appar- 
ently mocked the credulity of her companions ; for, in 
proportion as their vessels grew leaky, she redoubled her 
assurance of safety ; and none were more busy in making 
provisions for a long voyage, than they whom all but 
themselves saw likely to perish soon by irreparable decay. 

In the midst of the current of life was the gulph of 
Intemperance, a dreadful whirlpool, interspersed with 
rocks, of which the pointed crags were concealed under 
water, and the tops covered with herbage, on which Ease 
spread couches of repose, and with shades, where Pleasure 
warbled the song of invitation. Within sight of these rocks 
all who sailed on the ocean of life must necessarily pass. 



Reason, indeed, was always at hand to steer the passengers 
through a narrow outlet by which they might escape ; but 
very few could, by her entreaties or remonstrances, be 
induced to put the rudder into her hand, without stipulating 
that she should approach so near imto the rocks of 
Pleasure, that they might solace themselves with a short 
enjoyment of that delicious region, after which they always 
determined to pursue their course without any other 

Reason was too often prevailed upon so far by these 
promises, as to venture her charge within the eddy of the 
gulph of Intemperance, where, indeed, the circumvolution 
was weak, but yet interrupted the course of the vessel^ 
and drew it, by insensible rotations, towards the centre. 
She then repented her temerity, and with all her force 
endeavoured to retreat ; but the draught of the gulph was 
generally too strong to be overcome; and the passenger, 
having danced in circles with a pleasing and giddy velocity, 
was at last overwhelmed and lost. Those few whom 
Reason was able to extricate, generally suffered so many 
shocks upon the points which shot out from the rocks of 
Pleasure, that they were unable to continue their course 
with the same strength and facility as before, but floated 
along timorously and feebly, endangered by eyery breeze, 
and shattered by every ruffle of the water, till they sunk, 
by slow degrees, after long struggles, and innumer- 
able expedients, always repining at their own folly, and 
warning others against the first approach of the gulph of 

There were artists who professed to repair the breaches 
and stop the leaks of the vessels which had been shattered 
on the rocks of Pleasure. Many appeared to have great 
confidence in their skill, and some, indeed, were preserved 




by it from sinking, who had received only a single blow ; 
bitt I remarked that few vessels lasted long which had been 
much repaired, nor was it found that the artists themselves 
continued afloat longer than those who had least of their 

The only advantage which, in the voyage of life, the 
cautious had above the negligent, was, that they sunk later, 
and more suddenly ; for they passed forward till they had 
sometimes seen all those in whose company they had issued 
from the streights of infancy, perish in the way, and at last 
were overset by a cross breeze, without the toil of resistance, 
or the anguish of expectation. But such as had ofteft 
fallen against the rocks of Pleasure, commonly subsided 
by sensible degrees, contended long with the encroaching 
waters, and harassed themselves by labours that scarce 
Hope herself could flatter with success. 

As I was looking upon the various fate of the multitude 
about me, I was suddenly alarmed with an admonition from 
some unknown Power, "Gaze not idly upon others when 
"thou thyself art sinking. Whence is this thoughtless 
" tranquillity, when thou and they are equally endangered ? " 
I looked, and seeing the gulph of Intemperance before me, 
started and awaked. 



Saturday y March 30, 1751. 


-Sapere aude. 

Incipe, Vivendi recti quiprorogcU horam^ 

Rusticus expectat Hum defltutt amnis : at ille 

Labitur^ <Sr» labetur in omne volubilis ovum.** HoR. 

"Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise; 
He who defers his work from day to day. 
Does on a river's bank expecting stay, 
Till the whole stream, which stopp'd him, should be gone. 
That runs, and as it runs, for ever will run on." Cowley. 

A N ancient poet, unreasonably discontented at the present 
•^^ state of things, which his system of opinions obliged 
him to represent in its worst form, has observed of the earth, 
" that its greater part is covered by the uninhabitable ocean ; 
^* that of the rest some is encumbered with naked mountains, 
"and some lost under barren sands; some scorched with 
" unintermitted heat, and some petrified with perpetual 
"frost ; so that only a few regions remain for the production 
" of fruits, and the pasture of cattle, and the accommodation 
^* of man." 

The same observation may be transferred to the time 
allotted us in our present state. When we have deducted 
all that is absorbed in sleep, all that is inevitably appro- 
priated to the demands of nature, or irresistibly engrossed 
by the tyranny of custom ; all that passes in regulating the 
superficial decorations of life, or is given up in the recipro- 
cations of civility to the disposal of others ; all that is torn 
from us by the violence of disease, or stolen imperceptibly 
avmy by lassitude and languor ; we shall find that part of our 


^i"ation very small of which we can truly call ourselves 
^^sters, or which we can spend wholly at our own choice. 
*-^iiy of our hours are lost in a rotation of petty cares, in a 
^^^stant recurrence of the same employments; many of our 
'^'Ovisions for ease or happiness are always exhausted by 
"^^ present day ; and a great part of otir existence serves no 
^^Her purpose^ than that of enabling us to enjoy the rest 

Of the few moments which are left in our disposal, it may 

^^asonably be expected, that we should be so frugal, as to 

•^t none of them slip from us without some equivalent : and 

perhaps it might be found, that as the earth, however 

straitened by rocks and watery, is capable of producing 

Diore than all its inhabitants are able to consume, our lives, 

though much contracted by incidental distraction, would yet 

aflford us a large space vacant to the exercise of reason and 

virtue; that we want not time, but diUgence, for great 

performances ; and that we squander much of our allowance, 

even while we think it sparing and insufficient 

This natural and necessary comminution of our lives, 
perhaps, often makes us insensible of the negligence with 
which we suffer them to slide away. We never consider 
ourselves as possessed at once of time sufficient for any 
great design, and therefore indulge ourselves in fortuitous 
amusements. We think it unnecessary to take an account 
of a few supernumerary moments, which, however employed, 
could have produced little advantage, and which were 
exposed to a thousand chances of disturbance and 

It is observable that, either by nature or by habit, our 
faculties are fitted to images of a certain extent, to which we 
adjust great things by division, and little things by accumula- 
tion. Of extensive surfaces we can only take a survey, as 
the parts succeed one another; and atoms we cannot 


perceive till they are united into masses. Thus we break 
the vast periods of time into centuries and years ; and 
thus, if we would know the amount of moments, we must 
agglomerate them into days and weeks. 

The proverbial oracles of our parsimonious ancestors have 
informed us, that the fatal waste of fortune is by small 
expenses, by the profusion of sums too little singly to alarm 
our caution, and which we never suffer ourselves to con- 
sider together. Of the same kind is the prodigality of -life ; 
he that hopes to look back hereafter with satisfaction upon 
past years, must learn to know the present value of single 
minutes, and endeavour to let no particle of time fall useless 
to the ground. 

It is usual for those who are advised to the attainment of 
any new qualification, to look upon themselves as required 
to change the general course of their conduct, to dismiss 
business, and exclude pleasure, and to devote their days 
and nights to a particular attention. But all common 
degrees of excellence are attainable at a lower price; he 
that should steadily and resolutely assign to any science 
or language those interstitial vacancies which intervene in 
the most crowded variety of diversion or employment, would 
find every day new irradiations of knowledge, and discover 
how much more is to be hoped from frequency and 
perseverance, than from violent efforts and sudden desires; 
efforts which are soon remitted when they encounter 
difficulty, and desires, which, if they are indulged too often, 
will shake off the authority of reason, and range capriciously 
firom one object to another. 

The disposition to defer every important design to a time 
of leisure, and a state of settled uniformity, proceeds 
generally from a false estimate of the human powers. If we 
except those gigantick and stupendous intelligences who are 


said to grasp a system by intuition, and bound forward from 
one series of conclusions to another, without regular steps 
through intermediate propositions, the most successful 
students make their advances in knowledge by short flights, 
between each of which ihe mind may lie at rest. For every 
single act of progression a short time is sufficient ; and it is 
only necessary, that whenever that time is afforded, it be 
well employed. 

Few minds will be long confined to severe and laborious 
meditation; and when a successful attack on knowledge 
has been made, the student recreates himself with the 
contemplation of his conquest, and forbears another 
incursion, till the new-acquired truth has become familiar, 
and his curiosity calls upon him for fresh gratifications. 
Whether the time of intermission is spent in company, or 
in sohtude, in necessary business, or in voluntary levities, 
the understanding is equally abstracted from the object 
of inquiry ; but perhaps, if it be detained by occupations 
less pleasing, it returns again to study with greater alacrity, 
than when it is glutted with ideal pleasures, and surfeited 
with intemperance of application. He that will not suffer 
himself to be discouraged by fancied impossibilities, may 
sometimes find his abilities invigorated by the necessity 
of exerting them in short intervals, as the force of a current 
is increased by the contraction of its channel. 

From some cause like this it has probably proceeded, 
that among those who have contributed to the advancement 
of learning, many have risen to eminence in opposition to 
all the obstacles which external circumstances could place 
in their way, amidst the tumult of business, the distresses of 
poverty, or the dissipations of a wandering and unsettled 
state. A great part of the life of Erasmus was one con- 
tinual peregrination ; ill supplied with the gifts of fortune, 


and led from city to city, and from kingdom to kingdom,^ 
by the hopes of patrons and preferment, hopes whicfe 
always flattered and always deceived him ; he yet foun^ 

means, by unshaken constancy, and a vigilant improvemen 

of those hours, which, in the midst of the most restle^ 
activity, will remain unengaged, to write more than anoth^ 
in the same condition would have hoped to read. Cohezi 
pelled by want to attendance and solicitation, and so mucli 
versed in common life, that he has transmitted to us tkie 
most perfect delineation of the manners of his age, he 
joined to his knowledge of the world, such application to 
books, that he will stand for ever in the first rank of litera/y 
heroes. How this proficiency was obtained he sufficiently 
discovers, by informing us, that the Praise of Folly ^ one of 
his most celebrated performances, was composed by him 
on the road to Italy ; ne totum illud iempus quo equo fuit 
insidenduMy illiteratis fabulis terreretur^ lest the hours 
which he was obliged to spend on horseback should be 
tattled away without regard to literature. 

An Italian philosopher expressed in his molto, that Hmt 
was his estate; an estate indeed, which will produce 
nothing without cultivation, but will always abundantly 
repay the labours of industry, and satisfy the most extensive 
desires, if no part of it be suifered to lie waste by negligence, 
to be overrun with noxious plants, or laid out for show 
rather than for use. 



Tuesday y April 2Py i75i- 


TUiKlov ebfoaKpvWov, ty dpavbs A/jparbs etrj,^* HOM. 

" The gods they challenge, and affect the skies : 
Heav*d on Oljnnpus tottVing Ossa stood ; 
On Ossa, Pelion nods with all his wood." Pope. 


lyrOTHING has more retarded the advancement of 
•*• ^ learning than the disposition of vulgar minds to 
ridicule and vilify what they cannot comprehend. All 
industry must be excited by hope ; and as the student often 
proposes no other reward to himself than praise, he is easily 
discouraged by contempt and insult. He who brings with 
him into a clamorous multitude the timidity of recluse 
speculation, and has never hardened his front in publick 
life, or accustomed his passions to the vicissitudes and 
accidents, the triumphs and defeats of mixed conversation, 
will blush at the stare of petulant incredulity, and suder 
himself to be driven by a burst of laughter, from the 
fortresses of demonstration. The mechanist will be afraid 
to assert before hardy contradiction, the possibility of tearing 
down bulwarks with a silkworm's thread ; and the astronomer 
of relating the rapidity of light, the distance of the fixed 
stars, and the height of the lunar mountains. 

If I could by any efforts have shaken off this cowardice, 
I had not sheltered myself under a borrowed name, nor 
applied to you for the means of communicating to the 


publick the theory of a garret; a subject which, exceptu:: 
some slight and transient strictures, has been hithertc 
neglected by those who were best qualified to adorn it 
either for want of leisure to prosecute the various researchfcL-s 
in which a nice discussion must engage them, or because Si 
requires such diversity of knowledge, and such extent of 
curiosity, as is scarcely to be found in any single intellect:/ 
or perhaps others foresaw the tumults which would be 
raised against them, and confined their knowledge to their 
own breasts, and abandoned prejudice and folly to the 
direction of chance. 

That the professors of literature generally reside in the 
highest stories, has been immemorially observed.* The 
wisdom of the ancients was well acquainted with the 
intellectual advantages of an elevated situation : why else 
were the Muses stationed on Olympus, or Parnassus, by 
those who could with equal right have raised them bowers 
in the vale of Tempe, or erected their altars among the 
flexures of Meander ? Why was Jove himself nursed upon 
a mountain ? or why did the goddesses, when the prize of 
beauty was contested, try the cause upon the top of Ida ? 
Such were the fictions by which the great masters of the 
earlier ages endeavoured to inculcate to posterity the 
importance of a garret, which, though they had been long 
obscured by the negligence and ignorance of succeeding 
times, were well enforced by the celebrated symbol of 
Pythagoras, avc/^wv wvcovtcuv Tt]v iJx^ irpoo-K-vvei ; ** when the 
"wind blows, worship its echo." This could not but be 
understood by his disciples as an inviolable injunction to 
live in a garret, which I have found frequently visited by the 
echo and the wind. Nor was the tradition wholly obliterated 

* Note XL, Appendix. 


the age of Augustus, for TibuUus evidently congratulates 
iiself upon his garret, not without some allusion to the 
thagorean precept : 

" Quhmjuvat immites ventos audire cubantem 

-^^9 gelidas hybemus aquas ciimfuderit auster^ 
Securum somnoSy imbre juvanie, sequi ! " 

" How sweet in sleep to pass the careless hours, 
LuU'd by the beating winds and dashing show'rs ! 

And it is impossible not to discover the fondness of 
icretius, an earlier writer, for a garret, in his description 
the lofty towers of serene learning, and of the pleasure 
th which a wise man looks down upon the confused 
d erratick state of the world moving below him : 

" Sed nil dulcius est, bene quhm munita tenere 
Editd doctrina sapierUum templa serena; 
Despicere unde queas alios, passimque videre 
Err are, atque viam palanteis queerer e inta.** 


•*Tis sweet thy laboring steps to guide 

To virtue's heights, with wisdom well supply'd, 

And all the magazines of learning fortify'd : 

From thence to look below on human kind, 

Bewilder'd in the maze of life, and blind." Dryden. 

The institution has, indeed, continued to our own time ; 
5 garret is still the usual receptacle of the philosopher and 
et ; but this, like many ancient customs, is perpetuated 
ly by an accidental imitation, without knowledge of the 
ginal reason for which it was established : 

** Causa latet: res est notissima." 

** The cause is secret, but th' effect is known." AODISON. 


Conjectures have, indeed, been advanced concerning^ 
these habitations of literature, but without much satisfactio 
to the judicious inquirer. Some have imagined, that thi 
garret is generally chosen by the wits as most easil 
rented ; and concluded that no man rejoices in his aeri^-J 
abode, but on the days of payment. Others suspect, 
that a garret is chiefly convenient, as it is remoter tha.yi 
any other part of the house from the outer door, which is 
often observed to be infested by visitants, who talk 
incessantly of beer, or linen, or a coat, and repeat the same 
sounds every morning, and sometimes again in the after- 
noon, without any variation, except that they grow daily 
more importunate and clamorous, and raise their voices in 
time from mournful murmurs to raging vociferations. This 
eternal monotony is always detestable to a man whose chief 
pleasure is to enlarge his knowledge, and vary his ideas. 
Others talk of freedom from noise, and abstraction from 
common business or amusements ; and some, yet more 
visionary, tell us, that the faculties are enlarged by open 
prospects, and that the fancy is more at liberty, when the 
eye ranges without confinement. 

These conveniencies may perhaps all be found in a 
well-chosen garret; but surely they cannot be supposed 
sufficiently important to have operated unvariably upon 
different climates, distant ages, and separate nations. Of 
an universal practice, there must still be presumed an 
universal cause, which, however recondite and abstruse, 
may be perhaps reserved to make me illustrious by its 
discovery, and you by its promulgation. 

It is universally known that the faculties of the mind 
are invigorated or weakened by the state of the body, 
and that the body is in a great measure regulated by the 
various compressions of the ambient element. The effects 


'^ the air in the production or cure of corporeal maladies 
i^vc been acknowledged from the time of Hippocrates; 
^^t no man has yet sufficiently considered how far it 
■^^y influence the operations of the genius, though every 
^^y affords instances of local understanding, of wits and 
^^^^oners, whose faculties are adapted to some single 
^Pot, and who, when they are removed to any other 
PWe, sink at once into silence and stupidity. I have dis- 
covered, by a long series of observations, that invention and 
^^ocution suffer great impediments from dense and impure 
vapours, and that the tenuity of a defecated air at a 
proper distance from the surface of the earth, accelerates 
the fancy, and sets at liberty those intellectual powers 
irhich were before shackled by too strong attraction, and 
unable to expand themselves under the pressure of a 
gross atmosphere. I have found dulness to quicken into 
sentiment in a thin ether, as water, though not very hot, 
boils in a receiver partly exhausted ; and heads, in appear- 
ance empty, have teemed with notions upon rising ground, 
as the flaccid sides of a football would have swelled out 
into stiffness and extension. 

For this reason I never think myself qualified to judge 
decisively of any man's faculties, whom I have only known 
in one degree of elevation ; but take some opportunity of 
attending him from the cellar to the garret, and try upon 
him all the various degrees of rarefaction and condensation, 
tension and laxity. If he is neither vivacious aloft, nor 
serious below, I then consider him as hopeless ; but as it 
seldom happens, that I do not find the temper to which the 
texture of his brain is fitted, I acccommodate him in 
time with a tube of mercury, first marking the points 
most favourable to his intellects, according to rules which 
I have long studied, and which I may, perhaps, reveal 


to mankind in a complete treatise of barometrical 

Another cause of the gaiety and sprightliness of the 
dwellers in garrets is probably the increase of that 
vertiginous motion, with which we are carried round by the 
diurnal revolution of the earth. The power of agitation 
upon the spirits is well known ; every man has felt his heart 
lightened in a rapid vehicle, or on a galloping horse ; and 
nothing is plainer, than that he who towers to the fifth 
storey, is whirled through more space by every circumr 
rotation, than another that grovels upon the ground-floor. 
The nations between the tropicks are known to be fiery, 
inconstant, inventive, and fanciful ; because, living at the 
utmost length of the earth's diameter, they are carried about 
with more swiftness that those whom nature has placed 
nearer to the poles ; and therefore, as it becomes a wise man 
to struggle with the inconveniencies of his country, when- 
ever celerity and acuteness are requisite, we must actuate 
our languor by taking a few turns round the centre in a 

If you imagine that I ascribe to air and motion effects 
which they cannot produce, I desire you to consult your 
own memory, and consider whether you have never known 
a man acquire reputation in his garret, which, when fortune 
or a patron had placed him upon the first floor, he was 
unable to maintain ; and who never recovered his former 
vigour of understanding, till he was restored to his original 
situation. That a garret will make every man a wit, I am 
very far from supposing ; I know there are some who would 
continue blockheads even on the summit of the Andes, 
or on the peak of Teneriffe. But let not any man be 
considered as unimproveable till this potent remedy has been 
tried ; for perhaps he was formed to be great only in a 


garret, as the joiner of Aretseus was rational in no other 
place but his own shop. 

I think a frequent removal to various distances from the 
centre, so necessary to a just estimate of intellectual 
abilities, and consequently of so great use in education, 
that if I hoped that the publick could be persuaded to so 
extensive an experiment, I would propose, that there should 
be a cavern dug, and a tower erected, like those which 
Bacon describes in Solomon's house, for the expansion 
and concentration of understanding, according to the 
exigence of diflferent employments, or constitutions. Per- 
haps some that fume away in meditations upon time and 
space in the tower, might compose tables of interest at a 
certain depth ; and he that upon level ground stagnates in 
silence, or creeps in narrative, might, at the height of half 
a mile, ferment into merriment, sparkle with repartee, and 
froth with declamation. 

Addison observes, that we may find the heat of Virgil's 
climate in some lines of his Georgick : so, when I read a 
composition, I immediately determine the height of the 
author's habitation. As an elaborate performance is com- 
monly said to smell of the lamp, my commendation for a 
noble thought, a sprightly sally, or a bold figure, is to 
pronounce it fresh from the garret ; an expression which 
would break from me upon the perusal of most of your 
papers, did I not believe, that you sometimes quit the 
giarret, and ascend into the cock-loft."^ 


* Note XII., Appendix. 


Tuesday y June 4, 1751. 

" CapisH melitis qu^m desinis : uUima primis 

Cedunt : dissimiles hie vir, et iliepu^r,** OviD. 

" Succeeding years thy early fame destroy ; 
Thou, who began*st a man, wilt end a boy." 

"POLITIAN, a name eminent among the restorers of 
■■- polite literature, when he published a collection of 
epigrams, prefixed to many of them the year of his age at 
which they were composed. He might design by this 
information, either to boast the early maturity of his genius, 
or to conciliate indulgence to the puerility of his perform- 
ances. But, whatever was his intent, it is remarked by 
Scaliger, that he very little promoted his own reputation, 
because he fell below the promise which his first productions 
had given, and in the latter part of his life seldom equalled 
the sallies of his youth. 

It is not uncommon for those who, at their first entrance 
into the world, were distinguished for attainments or 
abilities, to disappoint the hopes which they had raised, and 
to end in neglect and obscurity that life which they began 
in celebrity and honour. To the long catalogue of the 
inconveniencies of old age, which moral and satirical writers 
have so copiously displayed, may be often added the loss of 

The advance of the human mind towards any object of 
laudable pursuit, may be compared to the progress of a 
body driven by a blow. It moves for a time with great 
velocity and vigour, but the force of the first impulse is 


perpetually decreasing, and, though it should encounter no 
obstacle capable of quelling it by a sudden stop, the resist- 
ance of the medium through which it passes, and the latent 
inequalities of the smoothest surface, will in a short time, by 
continued retardation, wholly overpower it. Some hin- 
drances will be found in every road of life, but he that fixes 
his eyes upon any thing at a distance, necessarily loses sight 
of all that fills up the intermediate space, and therefore sets 
forward with alacrity and confidence, nor suspects a 
thousand obstacles by which he afterwards finds his passage 
embarrassed and obstructed. Some are indeed stopt at 
once in their career by a sudden shock of calamity, or 
diverted to a different direction by the cross impulse of 
some violent passion ; but far the greater part languish by 
slow degrees, deviate at first into slight obliquities, and 
themselves scarcely perceive at what time their ardour for- 
sook them, or when they lost sight of their original design. 

Weariness and negligence are perpetually prevailing, by 
silent encroachments, assisted by difierent causes, and not 
observed till they cannot, without great difficulty, be 
opposed. Labour necessarily requires pauses of ease and 
relaxation, and the deliciousness of ease commonly makes 
us unwilling to return to labour. We, perhaps, prevail upon 
ourselves to renew our attempts, but eagerly listen to every 
argument for frequent interpositions of amusement; for, 
when indolence has once entered upon the mind, it can 
scarcely be dispossessed but by such efibrts as very few are 
willing to exert 

It is the fate of industry to be equally endangered by 

miscarriage and success, by confidence and despondency. 

He that engages in a great undertaking, with a false opinion 

of its facility, or too high conceptions of his own strength, iu 

easily discouraged by the first hindrance of his advances, 



because he had promised himself an equal and perpetuaL 
progression without impediment or disturbance; wheiK 
unexpected interruptions break in upon him, he is in the 
state of a man surprised by a tempest, where he purposed 
only to bask in the calm, or sport in the shallows. 

It is not only common to find the difficulty of an 
enterprize greater, but the profit less, than hope had 
pictured it. Youth enters the world with very happy 
prejudices in her own favour. She imagines herself not 
only certain of accomplishing every adventure, but of 
obtaining those rewards which the accomplishment may 
deserve. She is not easily persuaded to believe that the 
force of merit can be resisted by obstinacy and avarice, or 
its lustre darkened by envy and malignity. She has not 
yet learned that the most evident claims to praise or 
preferment may be rejected by malice against conviction, or 
by indolence without examination ; that they may be some- 
times defeated by artifices, and sometimes overborne by 
clamour ; that, in the mingled numbers of mankind, many 
need no other provocation to enmity than that they find 
themselves excelled ; that others have ceased their curiosity, 
and consider every man who fills the mouth of report with 
a new name, as an intruder upon their retreat, and disturber 
of their repose ; that some are engaged in complications of 
interest which they imagine endangered by every innovation; 
that many yield themselves up implicitly to every report 
which hatred disseminates or folly scatters ; and that who- 
ever aspires to the notice of the publick, has in almost every 
man an enemy and a rival; and must struggle with the 
opposition of the daring, and elude the stratagems of the 
timorous, must quicken the frigid and soften the obdurate, 
must reclaim perverseness and inform stupidity. 

It is no wonder that when the prospect of reward has 


nished, the zeal ol entetprise should cease; for who 
would persevere to cultivate the soil which he has, after 
long labour, discovered lo be barren? He who hath 
pleased himself with anticipated praises, and expected that 
he should meet in every place with patronage or friendship, 
will soon remit his vigour, when he finds that, from those 
who desire to be considered as his admirers, nothing can be 
hoped hut cold civility, and that many refuse to own his 
excellence, lest they should be too justly expected to 
reward it 

A man, thus cut off from the prospect of that port to 
which his address and fortitude had been employed to 
steer him, often abandons himself to chance and to the 
innd, and glides careless and idle down the current of 
life, without resolution to make another effort, till he is 
swallowed up by the gulph of mortality. 

Others are betrayed to the same desertion of themselves 
by a contrary fallacy. It was said of Hannibal, that he 
wanted nothing to the completion of his martial virtues, but 
that when he had gained a victory he should know how to 
use it. The folly of desisting loo soon from successful 
labours, and the haste of enjoying advantages before they 
are secured, are often fatal to men of impetous desire, to 
men whose consciousness of uncommon powers fills them 
with presumption, and who, having borne opposition down 
before thum, and left emulation panting behind, are early 
persuaded to imagine that they have reached the heights of 
perfection, and that now, being no longer in danger from 
competitors, they may pass the rest of their days in the 
enjoyment of their acquisitions, in contemplation of their 
own superiority, and in attention to iheir own praises, and 
look unconcerned from their eminence upon the toils and 
leaner beings. 


It is not sufficiently considered in the hour of exultation^, 
that all human excellence is comparative ; that no manr 
performs much but in proportion to what others accomplisl^ 
or to the time and opportunities which have been allowe 
him ; and that he who stops at any point of excellence - 
every day sinking in estimation, because his improvement 
grows continually more incommensurate to his life. Y^^ 
as no man willingly quits opinions favourable to hi:azxi 
self, they who have been once justly celebrated, imagine 
that they still have the same pretensions to regard, and 
seldom perceive the diminution of their character whj'le 
there is time to recover it. Nothing then remains but 
murmurs and remorse ; for if the spendthrift's poverty be 
embittered by the reflection that he once was rich, how 
must the idler's obscurity be clouded by the remembering 
that he once had lustre ! 

These errors all arise from an original mistake of the 
true motives of action. He that never extends his view 
beyond the praises or rewards of men, will be dejected by 
neglect and envy, or infatuated by honours and applause. 
But the consideration that life is only deposited in his 
hands to be employed in obedience to a Master who will 
regard his endeavours, not his success, would have 
preserved him from trivial elations and discouragements, 
and enabled him to proceed with constancy and cheer- 
fulness, neither enervated by commendation, nor intinU' 
dated by censure. 


Tuesday, July 9, 1 75 1 . 

** Dum viiant stulti vitia^ in contraria currunt,** HoR. 

" Whilst fools one vice condemn, 

They run into the opposite extreme." Creech. 

^rHAT wondef is the eflfect of ignorance, has been often 
^ observed. The awftil stillness of attention, with which 
Vie mind is overspread at the first view of an unexpected 
-fleet, ceases when we have leisure to disentangle com- 
>hcations and investigate causes. Wonder is a pause of 
reason, a sudden cessation of the mental progress, which 
lasts only while the understanding is fixed upon some single 
idea, and is at an end when it recovers force enough to 
divide the object into its parts, or mark the intermediate 
gradations from the first agent to the last consequence. 

It may be remarked with equal truth, that ignorance is 

often the effect of wonder. It is common for those who 

have never accustomed themselves to the labour of inquiry, 

nor invigorated their confidence by conquests over difficulty, 

to sleep in the gloomy quiescence of astonishment, without 

any effort to animate inquiry, or dispel obscurity. What 

they cannot immediately conceive, they consider as too high 

to be reached, or too extensive to be comprehended ; they 

therefore content themselves with the gaze of folly, forbear 

to attempt what they have no hopes of performing, and 

resign the pleasure of rational contemplation to more 

pertinacious study or more active faculties. 

Among the productions of mechanick art, many are of a 
form so different from that of their first materials, and many 
consist of parts so numerous and so nicely adapted to each 


other, that it is not possible to view them without amaze — 
ment. But when we enter the shops of artificers, observ^B 
the various tools by which every operation is facilitated, ancm 
trace the progress of a manufacture through the difierei^M 
hands, that, in succession to each other, contribute to i^& 

perfection, we soon discover that every single man has a : 

easy task, and that the extremes, however remote, of natur^^ 
rudeness and artificial elegance, are joined by a regul^^ 
concatenation of effects, of which every one is introduces c: 
by that which precedes it, and equally introduces that whic:ia 
is to follow. 

The same is the state of intellectual and manual per- 
formances. Long calculations or complex diagrams affright 
the timorous and unexperienced from a second view ; but if 
we have skill sufficient to analyze them into simple principles, 
it will be discovered that our fear was groundless. Dividt 
and conquer^ is a principle equally just in science as in 
policy. Complication is a species of confederacy which, 
while it continues united, bids defiance to the most active 
and vigorous intellect ; but of which every member is 
separately weak, and which may therefore be quickly 
subdued, if it can once be broken. 

The chief art of learning, as Locke has observed, is to 
attempt but little at a time. The widest excursions of the 
mind are made by short flights frequently repeated; the 
most lofty fabricks of science are formed by the continued 
accumulation of single propositions. 

It often happens, whatever be the cause, that impatience 
of labour, or dread of miscarriage, seizes those who are most 
distinguished for quickness of apprehension ; and that they " 
who might with greatest reason promise themselves victory,..^ 
are least willing to hazard the encounter. This diflfidence,^^^ 

* Note XIII., Appepdix. 


i?vlnere the attention is not laid asleep by laziness, or 

dissipated by pleasures, can arise only from confused and 

^^neral views, such as negligence snatches in haste, or from 

disappointment of the first hopes formed by arrogance 

^thout reflection. To expect that the intricacies of science 

^wrO be pierced by a careless glance, or the eminences of 

^stme ascended without labour, is to expect a particular 

I>x-ivil^e, a power denied to the rest of mankind; but to 

sxippose that the maze is inscrutable to diligence, or the 

heights inaccessible to perseverance, is to submit tamely to 

tile tyranny of fancy, and enchain the mind in voluntary 


It is the proper ambition of the heroes in literature to 

enlarge the boundaries of knowledge by discovering and 

conquering new regions of the intellectual world. To the 

success of such undertakings, perhaps, some degree of 

fortuitous happiness is necessary, which no man can promise 

^^ procure to himself; and therefore doubt and irresolution 

^^y be forgiven in him that ventures into the unexplored 

^^ysses of truth, and attempts to find his way through the 

Actuations of uncertainty, and the conflicts of contradiction. 

*^^t when nothing more is required, than to pursue a path 

^^^eady beaten, and to trample obstacles which others have 

^^molished, why should any man so much distrust his own 

^tellect as to imagine himself unequal to the attempt ? 

It were to be wished that they who devote their lives 
^^ study would at once believe nothing too great for 
^heir attainment, and consider nothing as too little for 
^eir regard; that they would extend their notice alike 
^o science and to life, and unite some knowledge of 
the present world to their acquaintance with past ages 
^d remote events. 

Nothing has so much exposed men of learning tg 


contempt and ridicule, as their ignorance of things 
are known to all but themselves. Those who have bet 
taught to consider the institutions of the schools, as givii 
the last perfection to human abilities, are surprised "•o 
see men wrinkled with study, yet wanting to be instruct^^ 
in the minute circumstances of propriety, or the necessatiy 
forms of daily transaction; and quickly shake oflf th^/r 
reverence for modes of education, which they find to 
produce no ability above the rest of mankind. 

Books, says Bacon, can never teach the use of books^ 
The student must learn by commerce with mankind tcr 
reduce his speculations to practice, and accommodate his 
knowledge to the purposes of life. 

It is too common for those who have been bred to 
scholastick professions, and passed much of their time 
in academies where nothing but learning confers hbnours, 
to disregard every other qualification, and to imagine 
that they shall find mankind ready to pay homage to 
their knowledge, and to crowd about them for instruction. 
They therefore step out from their cells into the open 
world with all the confidence of authority and dignity 
of importance ; they look round about them at once with 
ignorance and scorn on a race of beings to whom they 
are equally unknown and equally contemptible, but whose 
manners they must imitate, and with whose opinions they 
must comply, if they desire to pass their time happily 
among them. 

To lessen that disdain with which scholars are inclined -^ 
to look on the common business of the world, and the ^ 
unwillingness with which they condescend to learn what 
is not to be found in any system of philosophy, it ma] 
be necessary to consider that, though admiration 
excited by abstruse researches and remote discoveries. 


yet pleasure is not given, nor affection conciliated, but 
t>y softer accomplishments, and qualities more easily 
communicable to those about us. He that can only con- 
verse upon questions, about which only a small part of 
nnankind has knowledge sufficient <o make them curious, 
nnust lose his days in unsocial silence, and live in the crowd 
o^ life without a companion. He that can only be useful 
^n great occasions, may die without exerting his abilities, 
^nd stand a helpless spectator of a thousand vexations 
^Wch fret away happiness, and which nothing is required 
^^ remove but a little dexterity of conduct and readiness 
^^ expedients. 

No degree of knowledge attainable by man is able 
^^ set him above the want of hourly assistance, or to 
Extinguish the desire of fond endearments, and tender 
^fficiousness; and therefore, no one should think it un- 
'^Ecessary to leam those arts by which friendship may be 
Stifled. Kindness is preserved by a constant reciprocation 
^* benefits or interchange of pleasures ; but such benefits 
^^ly can be bestowed, as others are capable to receive, 
^'^ci such pleasures only imparted, as others are qualified 
^ ^njoy. 

By this descent from the pinnacles of art no honour 
^^ be lost ; for the condescensions of learning are always 
^^^rpaid by gratitude. An elevated genius employed in 
"^le things, appears, to use the simile of Longinus, like 
^^ sun in his evening declination, he remits his splendour 
^^t retains his magnitude, and pleases more though he 
^^^^zles less. 


Tuesday, July 30, 1751. 

" Moveat comicula risum 

Furtivis nudata coloribus*^ HO'SC 

'* Lest when the birds their various colours claim, 
Stripp'd of his stolen pride, the crow forlorn 
Should stand the laughter of the publick scorn." Franci& 

A MONG the innumerable practices by which interest or 
"^^ envy have taught those who live upon literary fem^ 
to disturb each other at their airy banquets, one of the most 
common is the charge of plagiarism. When the excellence 
of a new composition can no longer be contested, ancJ 
malice is compelled to give way to the unanimity o^ 
applause, there is yet this one expedient to be tried, b^ 
which the author may be degraded, though his work b^ 
reverenced ; and the excellence which we cannot obscur^^ 
may be set at such a distance as not to overpower 011^ 
fainter lustre. 

This accusation is dangerous, because, even when it l^ 
false, it may be sometimes urged with probability. Bruyer^^ 
declares that we are come into the world too late to pro^ 
duce any thing new, that nature and life are preoccupied^ 
and that description and sentiment have been lon^ 
exhausted. It is indeed certain, that whoever attempts aii.3^ 
common topick, will find unexpected coincidences of hi^ 
thoughts with those of other writers ; nor can the nicest 
judgment always distinguish accidental similitude from art- 
ful imtiation. There is likewise a common stock of images^ 


a settled mode of arrangement, and a beaten track of 

transition, which all authors suppose themselves at liberty 

to use, and which produce the resemblance generally 

observable among contemporaries. So that in books which 

best deserve the name of originals, there is little new beyond 

tlie disposition of materials already provided; the same 

ideas and combinations of ideas have been long in the 

possession of other hands ; and, by restoring to every man 

^is own, as the Romans must have returned to their cots 

from the possession of the world, so the most inventive and 

fertile genius would reduce his folios to a few pages. Yet 

fee author who imitates his predecessors only by furnish- 

uig himself with thoughts and elegancies out of the same 

general magazine of literature, can with little more propriety 

^ reproached as a plagiary, than the architect can be 

censured as a mean copier of Angelo or Wren, because he 

^8 his marble from the same quarry, squares his stones by 

^^e same art, and unites them in columns of the same orders. 

Many subjects fall under the consideration of an author, 

^^ich, being limited by nature, can admit only of slight and 

accidental diversities. All definitions of the same thing 

''^^st be nearly the same; and descriptions, which are 

"^finitions of a more lax and fanciful kind, must always 

^^e in some degree that resemblance to each other which 

^^y all have to their object. Different poets describing the 

^Piing or the sea would mention the zephyrs and the 

'^^ers, the billows and the rocks ; reflecting on human life, 

^^y would, without any communication of opinions, lament 

^^ deceitfulness of hope, the fugacity of pleasure, the 

Agility of beauty, and the frequency of calamity ; and for 

Palliatives of these incurable miseries, they would concur 

^ recommending kindness, temperance, caution, and 



When therefore there are fcMind in VirgQ and Horace 
similar passages : 

" Ha HHerunt artes 

Parure subjecHs^ ei debettare st^eriasJ^ Vl&c 


To tame the proad, the fetta^d slave to fiee : 

These are imperial arts, and worthy thee. " Drydkit. 

** Imperet bellante prior ^ jaceniem 

Ltms in hastem,** Hot. 

** Let Caesar spread his conquests far. 
Less pleas'd to triumph than to spare.' 

it is surely not necessary to suppose with a late critick, ths^^^^^^ 
one is copied from the other, since neither Virgil nor Horac^^^ 
can be supposed ignorant of the common duties of humanit 
and the virtue of moderation in success. 

Cicero and Ovid have on very different occasioi 
remarked how little of the honour of a victory belongs t- 
the general, when his soldiers and his fortune have mac 
their deductions ; yet why should Ovid be suspected to hai 
owed to 'Fully an observation which perhaps occurs to eveE===^ 
man that sees or hears of military glories ? 

TuUy observes of Achilles, that had not Homer writte 
his valour had been without praise. 

** Nisi Ilias ilia extitisset, idem tumulus qui carpus efus ctnUextft^t 
ftomen ejus obruissel,*' 

'* Unless the Iliad had been published, his name had been lost io 

the tomb that covered his body." " ^ 

Horace tells us with more energy that there were biaic f Cj 


len before the wars of Troy, but they were lost in oblivion 
>r want of a poet : 

" Vixete fortes ante Agametnnona 
Multi ; sed omnes illachrymabiUs 
Urgentur, tgnotique longd 
Nocte^ carent quia vote sacro.*' 

*' Before great Agamemnon reign'd, 

Reign'd kings as great as he, and brave^ 
Whose huge ambition's now contain'd 

In the small compass of a grave : 
In endless night they sleep, unwept, unknown : 
No bard had they to make all time their own." 


Tully enquires, in the same oration, why, but for fame, 
'^'e disturb a short life with so many fatigues ? 

" Quid est quod in hoc tarn exiguo vita curricula et tarn brevi^ tantis 
nos in laborilms exerceamus?" 

"Why in so small a circuit of life should we employ ourselves in so 
many fatigues?" 

Horace enquires in the same manner, 

** Quid brevi fortes jaculamuravo 
Multa ? " 

** Why do we aim, with eager strife. 
At things beyond the mark of life ? '* Francis. 

when our life is of so short duration, why we form such 
numerous designs? But Horace, as well as Tully, might 
discover that records are needful to preserve the memory of 
actions, and that no records were so durable as poems ; 


either of them might find out that life is short, and that ^ 
consume it in unnecessary labour. 

There are other flowers of fiction so widely scattered an 
so easily cropped, that it is scarcely just to tax the use c 
them as an act by which any particular writer is despoiie< 
of his garland ; for they may be said to have been planted 
by the ancients in the open road of poetry for tb-* 
accommodation ot their successors, and to be the right C^ 
every one that has art to pluck them without injuring the:^ 
colours or their fragrance. The passage of Orpheus to heU 
with the recovery and second loss ot Eurydice, have \^t:^ 
described after Boetius by Pope, in such a manner as migl^ 
justly leave him suspected of imitation, were not the imaged 
such as they might both have derived from more ancient 

'* QtKB sontes agitarU mttu 
Ultrices sceUrum dea 
Jam nuBsia lacrymis madent^ 
Non Monium caput 
Velox pracipitat rota. * ' 

'* The pow'rs of vengeance, while they hear, 
Touch'd with compassion, drop a tear ; 
Ixion's rapid wheel is bound, 
Fix'd in attention to the sound," F. Lbwis. 

'* Thy stone, O Sysiphus, stands still, 
Ixion rests upon his wheel, 

And the pale spectres dance ! 
The furies sink upon their iron beds.** 

** Tandem^ vicimur^ arbiter 

Umbrarum, miseranSt ^^^ 

DonemuSy comitem viro, 
Emtam carmine^ conjugem^* 


** Sabdu'd at length. Heirs pitying monarch cry*d. 
The song rewarding, let us yield the bride.** 

F. Lewis. 


He sung, and hell consented 
To hear that poet's prayer ; 

Stem Proserpine relented. 
And gave him back the fair." 

** HeUf nocHs prope terminos 
Orpheus Eurydicen suam 
Vidtt, perdidit, occidit" 

" Nor yet the golden verge of day begun, 
When Orpheus, her unhappy lord, 
Eurydice to life restored, 
At once beheld, and lost, and was undone." 

F. Lewis, 

" But soon, too soon, the lover turns his eyes ; 
Again she falls, again she dies, she dies ! ** 

I writer can be fully convicted of imitation, except there 
oncurrence of more resemblance than can be imagined 
ve happened by chance ; as where the same ideas are 
ined without any natural series or necessary coherence, 
lere not only the thought but the words are copied, 
it can scarcely be doubted, that in the first of the 
^ing passages Pope remembered Ovid, and that in the 
id he copied Crashaw : 


Sape pater dixit ^ studium quid inutile tentas ? 

Mceonides nullas ipse reliquit opes 

Sponte sud carmen numeros veniebat ad aptos, 

Et quod conabar scribere, tfersus era/. " OviD. 


** Quit, quit this barren trade, my father cry'd ; 
Ev'n Homer left no riches when he dy*d 
In verse spontaneous flow'd my native strain, 
Forc'd by no sweat or labour of the brain." F. Lewt 

" I left no calling for this idle trade ; 
No duty broke, no father disobey'd ; 
While yet a child, ere yet a fool to fame, 
I lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came." PoE»- 

•*— This plain floor, 
Believe me, reader, can say more 
Than many a braver marble can. 
Here lies a truly honest man." Crashaho 

" This modest stone, what few vain marbles can, 
May truly say, Here lies an honest man." PopK. 

Conceits, or thoughts not immediately impressed \^^ 

sensible objects, or necessarily arising from the coalition <^:^^--^^. 

comparison of common sentiments, may be with gres^^^ 

justice suspected whenever they are found a second tiixM^^^ 

Thus Waller probably owed to Grotius an elegant coi 

pliment : 

•* Here lies the learned SaviVs heir. 
So early wise, and lasting fair, 
That none, except her years they told, 
Thought her a child, or thought her old." Waller. 

" Unica lux soscli^ genitorts gloria^ nemo 

Quern pturum^ nemo credidit esse senem.** G&OTIUS. 

" The age's miracle, his father's joy 1 
Nor old you wou'd pronounce him, nor a boy." F. Lbwis. — - 

And Prior was indebted for a pretty illustration ^^ 

Alleyne's poetical history of Henry the Seventh. 

" For nought but light itself, itself can shew, 
And only kings can write, what kings can do." Allbtni. 


" Your musick's power, your musick must disclose, 
For what light is, 'tis only light that shews. " Prior. 

nd with yet more certainty may the same writer be 
ured for endeavouring the clandestine appropriation of 
lought which he borrowed, surely without thinking 
jelf disgraced, from an epigram of Plato : 


OiK id^u), otrj d* Jjv Td/ws, $* dijvafiou,'* 

** Venus, take my votive glass, 
Since I am not what I was ; 
What from this day I shall be, 
Venus, let me never see." 

s not every instance of similitude can be considered as 
oof of imitation, so not every imitation ought to be 
imatized as plagiarism. The adoption of a noble 
iment, or the insertion of a borrowed ornament, may 
etimes display so much judgment as will ahnost corn- 
sate for invention : and an inferior genius may, without 
imputation of servility, pursue the path of the ancients, 
^ided he declines to tread in their footsteps. 



Tuesday, September lo, 1751. 

»* Steriles transmisimus annos, 

Hcec cevi mihi prima dies^ hoc limina vita,^* 



-Our barren years are past ; 

Be this of life the first, of sloth the last.*' 


"Vr O weakness of the human mind has more frequen t ^ 
^ ^ incurred animadversion, than the negligence wit 
which men overlook their own faults, however flagrant, ani 
the easiness with which they pardon them, however 
frequently repeated. 

It seems generally believed, that, as the eye cannot 

itself, the mind has no faculties by which it can contempt 

its own state, and that therefore we have not means or '* 
becoming acquainted with our real characters ; an opinioiT 
which, like innumerable other postulates, an inquirer 
himself inclined to admit upon very little evidence, 
it affords a ready solution of many difficulties. It wi^-^ 
explain why the greatest abilities frequently fail to promot ^^ 
the happiness of those who possess them; why thofi^^ 
who can distinguish with the utmost nicety the bouncS-- 
aries of vice and virtue, suffer them to be confounde?^ 
in their own conduct ; why the active and vigilant resigs^ 
their affairs implicitly to the management of otherS/ 
and why the cautious and fearful make hourly approached 
towards ruin, without one sigh of solicitude or struggle fir 


When a position teems thiis with commodious conse- 
quences, who can without regret confess it to be false? 
" ct it is certain that dedaimers have indulged a disposition 
f** describe the dominion of the passions as extended 
™^yond the limits that nature assigned. Solf-love is often 
*"^ther arrogant than blind : it does not hide our faults from 
"^^irselves, but persuades us that they escape the notice of 
^^liers, and disposes us to resent censures lest we should 
^"^nfess them to be just We are secretly conscious of 
^^fects and vices which we hope to conceal from the publick 
^^e, and please ourselves with inmimerable impostures, by 
^*hich, in reality, nobody is deceived. 

Jn proof of the 'dimness of our internal sight, or the 
general inability of man to determine rightly concerning his 
^im character, it is common to urge the success of the most 
Absurd and incredible flattery, and the resentment always 
»aised by advice, however soft, benevolent, and reasonable. 
But flattery, if its operation be nearly examined, will be 
found to owe its acceptance, not to our ignorance but 
knowledge of our failures, and lo delight us rather as it 
consoles our wants than displays our possessions. He that 
shall solicit the favour of his patron by praising him for 
qualities which be can find in himself, will be defeated by the 
; daring panegyrist who enriches him with adscititious 
ellence. Just praise is only a debt, but flattery is a 
The acknowledgment of those virtues on which 
jngratulatcs us, is a tribute that we can at any 
; with confidence ; but the celebration of those 
only feign, or desire without any T%orous 
ittain them, is received as a confession of 
fnty over regions never conquered, as a favourable 
a of disputable claims, and is more welcome 


Advice is offensive, not because it lays us open to 
unexpected regret, or convicts us of any fault which ki.dd 
escaped our notice, but because it shows us that we ar^ 
known to others as well as to ourselves ; and the ofi&cioi^'^ 
monitor is persecuted with hatred, not because his accuf 
tion is false, but because he assumes that superiority whicL 
we are not willing to grant him, and has dared to detec^^^^^^ 
what we desired to conceal. 

For this reason advice is commonly ineflfectuaL If those^^ 
who follow the call of their desires, without inquiry whither*^' 
they are going, had deviated ignorantly from the paths of^' 
wisdom, and were rushing upon dangers unforeseen, they "^ 
would readily hsten to information that recalls them from ^ 
their errors, and catch the first alarm by which destruction -^ 
or infamy is denounced. Few that wander in the ¥nrong 3 
way mistake it for the right ; they only find it more smooth -^ 
and flowery, and indulge their own choice rather than > 
approve it: therefore few are persuaded to quit it by ^" 
admonition or reproof, since it impresses no new conviction, - 
nor confers any powers of action or resistance. He that 
gravely informed how soon profusion will annihilate 
fortune, hears with Uttle advantage what he knew before^ 
and catches at the next occasion of expense, because 
advice has no force to suppress his vanity. He that is tolcS 
how certainly intemperance will hurry him to the graven 
runs with his usual speed to a new course of luxury, 
because his reason is not invigorated, nor his appetite 

The mischief of flattery is, not that it persuades any man 
that he is what he is not, but that it suppresses the influence 
of honest ambition, by raising an opinion that honour may 
be gained without the toil of merit ; and the benefit of 
advice arises commonly, not from any new light imparted to 


th« mind, but from the discovery which it affords of the 

F*iablick suffrages. He that could withstand conscience is 

'i^ghled at infamy, and shame prevails when reason was 


As we all know our own faults, and know them commonly 
^^"Sth many a^ravations which human perspicacity cannot 
^ iscover, there is, perhaps, no man, however hardened by 
*"*ipudence or dissipated by levity, sheltered by hypocrisy 
^^■fc- blasted by disgrace, who does not intend some time to 
?|^wiew his conduct, and to regulate the remainder of his life 

*-*J the laws of virtue. New temptations indeed attack him, 

Kiew invitations are offered by pleasure and interest, and the 
lOur of reformation is always delayed ; every delay gives 
■ice another opportunity of fortifying itself by habit ; and 
he change of manners, though sincerely intended and 
Nationally planned, is referred to the time when some 
^asving passion shall be fully gratified, or some powerful 
allurement cease its importunity. 

Thus procrastination is accumulated on procrastination, 
and one impediment succeeds another, till age shatters our 
^^ resolution, or death intercepts the project of amendment 
^Kl^uch is often the end of salutary purposes, after they have 
^^nbng delighted the imagination, and appeased that disquiet 
^^Fkttich every mind feels from known misconduct, when the 
attention is not diverted by business or by pleasure. 

Nothing surely can be more unworthy of a reasonable 
nature, than to continue in a state so opjiosite to real 
happiness, as that all the peace of solitude, and felicity of 
meditation, must arise from resolutions of forsaking it Yet 
the world will often afford examples of men, who pass 
monthfi and years in a continual war with their 
convictions, and are daily dragged by hal>Lt, or betrayed by 
rion, into practices which they closed and opened their 




eyes with purposes to avoid ; purposes which, though sett^ocf 
on conviction, the first impulse of momentary desire tota.Il> 

The influence of custom is indeed such, that to conqu^^ 
it will require the utmost efforts of fortitude and virtue ; DO ^ 
can I think any men more worthy of veneration and renowi^^J 
than those who have burst the shackles of habitual vi< 
This victory, however, has different degrees of glory as 
difficulty; it is more heroick as the objects of gu 
gratification are more familiar, and the recurrence o^ 
solicitation more frequent. He that, from experience of 
folly of ambition, lesigns his ofHces, may set himself free 
once from temptation to squander his life in courts, 
he cannot regain his former station. He who is ensla^ 
by an amorous passion, may quit his tyrant in disgust, 
absence will, without the help of reason, overcome 
degrees the desire of returning. But those appetites 
which every place affords their proper object, and which'* 
require no preparatory measures or gradual advances^ ar^ 
more tenaciously adhesive ; the wish is so near the enjoy- 
ment, that compliance often precedes consideration; and, 
before the powers of reason can be summoned, the time for 
employing them is past. 

Indolence is therefore one of the vices from which those 
whom it once infects are seldom reformed. Every othff 
species of luxury operates upon some appetite that is quickly 
satiated, and requires some concurrence of art or accident 
which every place will not supply ; but the desire of ease 
acts equally at all hours, and the longer it is indulged is the 
more increased. I'o do nothing is in every man's power; 
we can never want an opportunity of omitting duties. The 
lapse to indolence is soft and imperceptible, because it is 
only a mere cessation of activity ; but the return to diligence 


' ^ 


fficult, because it implies a change from rest to motion, 
I privation to reality. 

** Facilis descensus averni: 
Nodes atque dies patet cUrijanua ditis ; 
Sed revocare graduniy super asque evadere ad our as ^ 
Hoc opuSy hie labor est'* 


'* The gates of Hell are open night and day ; 
Smooth the descent, and easy is the way ; 
But to return, and view the cheerful skies, 
In this the task and mighty labour lies." 


f this vice, as of all others, every man who indulges it is 
icious : we all know our own state, if we could be 
ced to consider it ; and it might perhaps be useful to 
:onquest of all these ensnarers of the mind, if, at certain 
d days, life was reviewed. Many things necessary are 
ted, because we vainly imagine that they may be always 
)rmed ; and what cannot be done without pain will for 
be delayed, if the time of doing it be left unsettled, 
corruption is great but by long negligence, which can 
:ely prevail in a mind regularly and frequently awakened 
>eriodical remorse. He that thus breaks his life into 
;, will find in himself a desire to distinguish every stage 
is existence by some improvement, and delight himself 
the approach of the day of recollection, as of the time 
h is to begin a new series of virtue and felicity. 


Tuesday y October i, 1751. 

** 0U\ yap <f)j^XK(av yev^rj, rUrjSe koX &vdp<aF,** liOM. 

'^ Frail as the leaves that quiver on the sprays, 
Like them man flourishes, like them decays." 

Mr. Rambler. 

\70U have formerly observed that curiosity often 
^ inates in barren knowledge, and that the mind 
prompted to study and inquiry rather by the uneasiness <:>^ 
ignorance than the hope of profit Nothing can be of less 
importance to any present interest, than the fortune 0/ 
those who have been long lost in the grave, and from whooi 
nothing now can be hoped or feared. Yet, to rouse the 
zeal of a true antiquary, little more is necessary than to 
mention a name which mankind have conspired to forget; 
he will make his way to remote scenes of action through 
obscurity and contradiction, as Tully sought amidst bushes 
and brambles the tomb of Archimedes. 

It is not easy to discover how it concerns him that 
gathers the produce, or receives the rent of an estate, to 
know through what families the land has passed, who is 
registered in the Conqueror's survey as its possessor, how 
often it has been forfeited by treason, or how often sold by 
prodigality. The power or wealth of the present inhab 
itants of a country cannot be much increased by an inquiry 
after the names of those barbarians, who destroyed one 
another, twenty centuries ago, in contests for the shelter of 
woods or convenience of pasturage. Yet we see that no 


Tnan can be at rest in the enjoyment of a new purchase, 
till he has learned the history of his grounds from the 
ancient inhabitants of the parish, and that no nation omits 
to record the actions of their ancestors, however bloody, 
savage, and rapacious. 

The same disposition, as different opportunities call it 
foi~th, discovers itself in great or little things. I have 
^^^ays thought it unworthy of a wise man to slumber in 
toi^l inactivity, only because he happens to have no 
^^^^ployment equal to his ambition or genius : it is there- 
^^^^ my custom to apply my attention to the objects before 
"^^ ; and as I cannot think any place wholly unworthy of 
'^^^tice that affords a habitation to a man of letters, I have 

^^Uected the history and antiquities of the several garrets 

^ which I have resided. 

*^ Quantulcuunque estist vos ego magna voco,** 
*' How smaU to others, but how great to me ! " 

Many of these narratives my industry has been able to 
extend to a considerable length ; but the woman with 
whom I now lodge has lived only eighteen months in the 
house, and can give no account of its ancient revolutions ; 
the plaisterer having, at her entrance, obliterated, by his 
white-wash, all the smoky memorials which former tenants 
had left upon the ceiling, and perhaps drawn the veil of 
oblivion over politicians, philosophers, and poets. 

When I first cheapened my lodgings, the landlady told 
me, that she hoped I was not an author, for the lodgers 
on the first floor had stipulated that the upper rooms 
should not be occupied by a noisy trade. I very readily 
promised to give no disturbance to her family, and soon 
dispatched a bargain on the usual terms. 


I had not slept many nights in my new apartment before 
I began to inquire after my predecessors, and found m-y 
landlady, whose imagination is filled .chiefly with her owr^ 
affairs, very ready to give me information. 

Curiosity, like all other desires, produces pain as well 
pleasure. Before she began her narrative, I had heated m^ 
head with expectations of adventures and discoveries, o^^ 
elegance in disguise, iand learning in distress; and wa^^ 
somewhat mortified when I heard that the first tenant was^ 
a tailor, of whom nothing was remembered but that he^ 
complained of his room for want of light ; and, after having'^ 
lodged in it a month, and paid only a week's rent, pawned J 
a piece of cloth which he was trusted to cut out, and was-^ 
forced to make a precipitate retreat from this quarter of the^ 

The next was a young woman newly arrived from thi 
country, who lived for five weeks with great regularity, an 
became by frequent treats very much the favourite of thi 
family, but at last received visits so frequently from a cousirs. 
in Cheapside, that she brought the reputation of the house 
into danger, and was therefore dismissed with good advice. 

The room then stood empty for a fortnight : my landlady 
began to think she had judged hardly, and often wished for 
such another lodger. At last, an elderly man of a grave 
aspect read the bill, and bargained for the room at the very 
first price that was asked. He lived in close retirement^ 
seldom went out till evening, and then returned early, 
sometimes cheerful, and at other times dejected. It was 
remarkable, that, whatever he purchased, he never had 
small money in his pocket; and, though cool and tem- 
perate on other occasions, was always vehement and stormy 
till he received his change. He paid his rent with great 
exactness, and seldom failed once a week to requite my 


andlady's civility with a supper. At last, such is the fate 
>f liuman felicity, the house was alarmed at midnight by 
^e constable, who demanded to search the garrets. My 
^ndlady assuring him that he had mistaken the door, 
inducted him up stairs, where he found the tools of a 
coiner ; but the tenant had crawled along the roof to an 
*D^pty house, and escaped ; much to the joy of my land- 
^^y> who declares him a very honest man, and wonders 
'^hy any body should be hanged for making money when 
^ch numbers are in want of it She however confesses 
'^^t she shall, for the future, always question the character 
^f those who take her garret without beating down the 

The bill was then placed again in the window, and the 
Poor woman was teased for seven weeks by innumerable 
Passengers, who obliged her to climb with them every hour 
up five stories, and then disliked the prospect, hated the 
noise of a publick street, thought the stairs narrow, objected 
to a low ceiling, required the walls to be hung with fresher 
paper, asked questions about the neighbourhood, could not 
think of living so far from their acquaintance, wished the 
windows had looked to the south rather than the west, told 
how the door and chimney might have been better dis- 
posed, bid her half the price that she asked, or promised to 
give her earnest the next day, and came no more. 

At last, a short meagre man, in a tarnished waistcoat, 
desired to see the garret, and, when he had stipulated for 
two long shelves, and a large table, hired it at a low rate. 
When the affair was completed, he looked round him 
with great satisfaction, and repeated some words which the 
woman did not understand. In two days he brought a 
great box of books, took possession of his room, and 
lived very inoffensively, except that he frequently disturbed 


the inhabitants of the next floor by unseasonable noises. 
He was generally in bed at noon; but from evening to 
midnight he sometimes talked aloud with great vehemence^ 
sometimes stamped as in rage, sometimes threw down his 
poker, then clattered his chairs, then sat down in deep 
thought, and again burst out into loud vociferation ; som^' 
times he would sigh as oppressed with misery, and sometime^ 
shake with convulsive laughter. When he encountered aay 
of the family, he gave way or bowed, but rarely spok^i^ 
except that as he went up stairs he often repeated, 

*' Oj hviprara dtb/Jtara fdta.'* 

*' This habitant th' aerial regions boast :** 

hard words, to which his neighbours listened so often tha'^ 
they learned them without understanding them. What 
his employment she did not venture to ask him, but 
last heard a printer's boy inquire for the author. 

My landlady was very often advised to beware of thi^ 
strange man, who, though he was quiet for the present, 
might perhaps become outrageous in the hot months ; but^ 
as she was punctually paid, she could not find any sufficient 
reason for dismissing him, till one night he convinced her, 
by setting fire to his curtains, that it was not safe to have 
an author for an inmate. 

She had then for six weeks a succession of tenants, 
who left the house on Saturday, and, instead of paying 
their rent, stormed at their landlady. At last she took in 
two sisters, one of whom had spent her little fortune in 
procuring remedies for a lingering disease, and was now 
supported and attended by the other: she climbed with 
difficulty to the apartment, where she languished eight 
weeks without impatience, or lamentation, except for the 
expense and fatigue which her sister suffered, and then 


ly and contentedly expired. The sister followed her 
e grave, paid the few debts which they had contracted, 
i away the tears of useless sorrow, and, returning to 
business of common life, resigned to me the vacant 

ch, Mr. Rambler, are the changes which have happened 
le narrow space where my present fortune has fixed 
3sidence. So true it is that amusement and instruction 
dways at hand for those who have skill and willingness 
nd them ; and so just is the observation of Juvenal, 
a single house will show whatever is done or suffered in 

I am, sir, &c. 

Tuesday, October 2% 1751. 

'* Necpluteum cctdit^ nee demorsos sapit ungues,** Persius. 

'* No blood from bitten nails those poems drew ; 
But chum'd, like spittle, from the lips they flew." 


\TURAL historians assert that whatever is formed for 
long duration arrives slowly to its maturity. Thus 
xmest timber is of tardy growth, and animals generally 
id each other in longevity, in proportion to the time 
een their conception and their birth, 
le same observation may be extended to the offspring 
le mind. Hasty compositions, however they please at 
by flowery luxuriance, and spread in the sunshine of 
orary favour, can seldom endure the change of seasons, 
)erish at the first blast of criticism, or firost of neglect 
a Apelles was reproached with the paucity of his 


productions, and the incessant attention with which h^ 
retouched his pieces, he condescended to make no oth^-^ 
answer than that hepainted for perpetuity. 

No vanity can more justly incur contempt and indignatio^^ 
than that which boasts of negligence and hurry. For wb^^ 
can bear with patience the writer who claims such superiorit 
to the rest of his species, as to imagine that mankind are 
leisure for attention to his extemporary sallies, and tl 
posterity will reposite his casual eflusions among 
treasures of ancient wisdom ? 

Men have sometimes appeared of such transcendent 
abilities, that their slightest and most cursory performan( 
excel all that labour and study can enable meaner intellect's 
to compose ; as there are regions of which the spontaneous^ 
products cannot be equalled in other soils by care an(^B 
culture. But it is no less dangerous for any man to plac^^ 
himself in this rank of understanding, and fancy that he i^ 
born to be illustrious without labour, than to omit the cares 
of husbandry, and expect from his ground the blossoms of 

The greatest part of those who congratulate themselves 
upon their intellectual dignity, and usurp the privileges of 
genius, are men whom only themselves would ever have 
marked out as enriched by uncommon liberalities of nature^ 
or entitled to veneration and immortality on easy terms 
This ardour of confidence is usually found among those 
who, having not enlarged their notions by books or con- 
versation, are persuaded, by the partiality which we aD 
feel in our own favour, that they have reached the summit 
of excellence, because they discover none higher than 
themselves \ and who acquiesce in the first thoughts tbat 
occur, because their scantiness of knowledge allows them 
little choice ; and the narrowness of their views afifords them 


i?5 ' 

!0 glimpse of perfection, of that sublime idea wliich human 
adustry has from the first ages been vainly toiling t 
Pproach. They see a little, and believe that there is 
'oQiing beyond llieir sphere of vision, as the Patuecos 
*r Spain, who inhabited a small valley, conceived the 
'Irrounding mountains to be the boundaries of the world. 
to proportion as perfection is more distinctly conceived, the 
Weasure of contemplating our own performances will be 
^«ssened ; it may therefore be observed, that they who most 
■Seserve praise are often afraid to decide in favour of their 
Own -performances ; they know how much is siill wanting to 
Iheir completion, and wait with anxiety and terrour the 
determination of the piihlicL "I please everyone else," 
Says Tully, " but never satisfy myself" 

It has often been inquired, why, notwithstanding the 
advances of later ages in science, and the assistance which 
flie infusion of so many new ideas has given us, we fall 
ImJow the ancients in the art of composition. Some part of 
;heir superiority may be justly ascribed lo the graces of their 
language, from which the most polished of the present 
European tongues are nothing more than barbarous de- 
generations. Some advantage they might gain merely by 
ariority, which put them in possession of the most natural 
WQtiments, and left us nothing but servile repetition or 
Ibtced conceits. But the greater part of their praise seems 
•a have been the just reward of modesty and labour. Their 
(CDse of human weakness c<mfined them commonly to one 
Itudy, which their knowledge of the extent of every science 
SngBged them to prosecute with indefatigable diligence. 

Among the writers of antiquity I remember none except ' 
itatitis who ventures to mention the speedy production of 
Elfs wridngs, either as an extenuation of his faults, or a proof 
if his facility. Nor did Statins, when he considered himself 


as a candidate for lasting reputation, think a closer attention 
unnecessary, but amidst all his pride and indigence, the two 
great hasteners of modem poems, employed twelve years 
upon the Thebaid, and thinks his claim to renown propor- 
tionate to his labour. 

'' Thebais^ multa cruciata lima, 
Tentat, atuUtcifide, Mantuana 
Gaudia fanuz** 

*• Polish'd with endless toil, my lays 
At length aspire to Mantuan praise." 

Ovid indeed apologizes in his banishment for the iin- 
perfection of his letters, but mentions his want of leisure 
to polish them, as an addition to his calamities ; and was so 
&r from imagining revisals and corrections unnecessary) 
that at his departure from Rome he threw his Metamor- 
phoses into the fire, lest he should be disgraced by a book 
which he could not hope to finish. 

It seems not often to have happened that the same writer 
aspired to reputation in verse and prose ; and of those few 
that attempted such diversity of excellence, I know not that 
even one succeeded. Contrary characters they never 
imagined a single mind able to support, and therefore no 
man is recorded to have undertaken more than one kind of 
dramatick poetry. 

What they had written, they did not venture in their first 
fondness to thrust into the world, but, considering the 
impropriety of sending forth inconsiderately that which 
cannot be recalled, deferred the publication, if not nine 
years, according to the direction of Horace, yet till their 
fancy was cooled after the raptures of invention and the 
glare of novelty had ceased to dazzle the judgment. 

There were in those days no weekly or diurnal writers; 
multa dies, dr* multa liiura, much time, and many rasures, 



^Hhsidered as indispensable requisites ; and that no 
l^^ethod of attaining lasting praise has been yet 
covered, may be conjcciured from the blotted manu- 
ipts of Milton now remaining, and from the tardy 
lission of Pope's compositions, delayed more than once 
the incidents to which they alluded were forgotten, 
his enemies were secure from his satire, and, what to 
honest mind must be more painful, his friends were 
»ftO his encomiums. 

To him, whose eagerness of praise hurries his productions 
Un into tiie light, many imperfections are unavoidable, 
tn where the mind furnishes the materials, as well as 
jalates their disposition, and nothing depends upon 
Itch or information, Delay opens new veins of thought, 
; subject dismissed for a time appears with a new train 
dependent images, the accidents of reading or conver- 
iOR supply new ornaments or allusions, or mere 
ennission of the fatigue of thinking enables the mind 
collect new force, and make new excursions. But all 
Be benefits came too late for hina, who, when he was 
iry with labour, snatched at the lecompense, and gave 
worlt to his friends and his enemies as soon as impatience 
1 pride persuaded him to conclude it. 
3ne of the most pernicious effects of haste is obscurity. 
: that teems with a quick succession of ideas, and 
eeives how one sentiment produces another, easily 
ieves that he can clearly express what he so strongly com- 
bends; he seldom suspects his thoughts of embarrass- 
Ot, while he preserves in his own memory the series of 
inoction, or his diction of ambiguity, while only one sense 
present to bis mind. Yet if he has been employed 
an abBtiusc or complicated argument, he wfll find, when 
^as a while withdrawn his mind, nnd returns as a new 


reader to his work, that he has only a conjectural glimpse 
of his own meaning, and that to explain it to those 
whom he desires to instruct^ he must open his sentiments, 
disentangle his method, and alter his arrangement 

Authors and lovers always suffer some infatuation, from 
which only absence can set them free; and every man 
ought to restore himself to the full exercise of his judgment, 
before he does that which he cannot do improperly without 
injuring his honour and his quiet. 

Saturday, November 23, 1751. 


-Naso suspendere adunco,** Hoiu 

** On me you turn the nose. " 

T^HERE are many vexatious accidents and uneasy sittt- 
^ ations which raise little compassion for the sufferer, 
and which no man but those whom they immediatdy 
distress can regard with seriousness. Petty mischiefs, that 
have no influence on futurity, nor extend their effects to Ae 
rest of life, are always seen with a kind of malidoos 
pleasure. A mistake or embarrassment, which for tf»c 
present moment fills the face with blushes, and the mind 
with confusion, will have no other effect upon those iriio 
observe it, than that of convulsing them with irresistible 
laughter. Some circumstances of misery are so powerfiil^ 
ridiculous, that neither kindness nor duty can withstand 
them ; they bear down love, interest, and reverence^ and 
force the friend, the dependent, or the child, to give way to 
instantaneous motions of merriment 



' 'the principal of comick calamities, may be 
1 the pain which an author, not yet hardened into 
bility, feels at the onset of a furious critick, whose 
nk, or fortune, gives him confidence to speak without 
; who heaps one objection upon another, and 
ss his remarks, and enforces liis corrections, without 
less or awe. 
author, full of the importance of his work, and 

1 for the justification of every syllable, starts and 
at the shghtest attack ; the critic!:, eager to establish 

>eriority, triumphing in every discovery of faUure, 
lalous to impress the cogency of his arguments, 
i him from line to hne without cessation or remoree. 
itick, who hazards little, proceeds with vehemence, 
osity, and fearlessness ; the author, whose quiet and 
md life and immortality, are involved in the con- 
j^, tries every art of subterfuge and defence ; main- 
lodestly what he resolves never to yield, and yields 
ngly what cannot be maintained. The critick's 

2 is to conquer, the author only hopes to escape ; 
ic therefore knits his brow, and raises hts voice, and 
i whenever he perceives any tokens of pain excited 

pressure of his assertions, or the point of his 
is. The author, whose endeavour is at once to 
and elude his persecutor, composes his features and 
his accent, breaks the force of assault by retreat, 
;her steps aside than flies or advances. 
; very seldom happens that the rage of extemporary 
n inflicts fatal or lasting wounds, I know not that 
rs of benevolence entide this distress to much sym- 
The diversion of baiting an author has the sanc- 
' all ages and nations, and is more lawful than the 
£ teasing other animals, because, for the most lart, 


he comes voluntarily to the stake, furnished, as he imagines, 
by the patron powers of literature, with resistless weapons 
and impenetrable armour, with the mail of the boar of 
Erymanth, and the paws of the lion of Nemea.* 

But the works of genius are sometimes produced by other 
motives than vanity; and he whom necessity or duty 
enforces to write, is not always so well satisfied with him- 
self, as not to be discouraged by censorious impudence. 
It may therefore be necessary to consider, how they whom 
publication lays open to the insults of such as their 
obscurity secures against reprisals, may extricate themselves 
firom unexpected encounters. 

Vida, a man of considerable skill in the politicks of 
literature, directs his pupil wholly to abandon his defence^ 
and, even when he can irrefragably refute all objectioDS» 
to suffer tamely the exultations of his antagonist 

This rule may perhaps be just, when advice is asked, and 
severity solicited, because no man tells his opinion so fredy 
as when he imagines it received with implicit veneration; 
and criticks ought never to be consulted, but while errois 
may yet be rectified or insipidity suppressed. But when 
the book has once been dismissed into the world, and can 
be no more retouched, I know not whether a very different 
conduct should not be prescribed, and whether firmness 
and spirit may not sometimes be ot use to overpower 
arrogance and repel brutality. Softness, diffidence, and 
moderation, will often be mistaken for imbecility and 
dejection ; they lure cowardice to the attack by the hopes 
of easy victory, and it will soon be found that he whtMn 
every man thinks he can Conquer, shall never be at peace. 

The animadversions of criticks are commonly such as 

* Note XIV., Appendix. 


inay easfly provoke the sedatest writer to some quickness 
of resentment and asperity of reply.* A man who by 
long consideration has familiarised a subject to his own 
mind, carefully surveyed the series of his thoughts, and 
planned all the parts of his composition into a regular 
dependence on each other, will often start at the sinistrous 
^terpretations or absurd remarks of haste and ignorance, 
^d wonder by what infatuation they have been led away 
from the obvious sense, and upon what peculiar principles 
of judgment they decide against him. 

The eye of the intellect, like that of the body, is not 
equally perfect in all, nor equally adapted in any to 
all objects ; the end of criticism is to supply its defects ; 
tules are the instruments of mental vision, which may 
indeed assist our faculties when properly used, but produce 
confusion and obscurity by unskilful application. 

Some seem always to read with the microscope of criticism, 
md employ their whole attention upon minute elegance, 
yt faults scarcely visible to common observation. The 
dissonance of a syllable, the recurrence of the same sound, 
iie repetition of a particle, the smallest deviation from 
propriety, the slightest defect in construction or arrange- 
ment, swell before their eyes into enormities. As they 
discern with great exactness, they comprehend but a 
narrow compass, and know nothing of the justness of the 
design, the general spirit of the performance, the artifice 
>f connection, or the harmony of the parts ; they never 
:onceive how small a proportion that which they are busy 
in contemplating bears to the whole, or how the petty 
inaccuracies with which they are oflfended, are absorbed 
u)d lost in general excellence. 

• Note XV. , Appendix. 


Others are furnished by criticism with a telescope-* 
They see with great clearness whatever is too remote 
be discovered by the rest of mankind, but are totally blinc 
to all that lies immediately before them. They disco\ 
in every passage some secret meaning, some remot^^ 
allusion, some artful allegory, or some occult imitatioiL ^ 
which no other reader ever suspected; but they have 
perception of the cogency of arguments, the force o 
pathetick sentiments, the various colours of diction, o:^ 
the flowery embellishments of fancy ; of all that engage fs 
the attention of others they are totally insensible, whil^ 
they pry into worlds of conjecture, and amuse themsdvcws 
with phantoms in the clouds. 

In criticism, as in every other art, we fail sometimes 
by our weakness, but more frequently by our &ult We i 
are sometimes bewildered by ignorance, and sometimes 
by prejudice; but we seldom deviate far from the right, 
but when we deliver ourselves up to the direction of vanity. 

Saturday y November 30, 1 75 1. 

** Pars sanitatis velU sanarifuit.^ SsNECA. 

*' To yield to remedies is half the cure." 

TJYTHAGORAS is reported to have required from those 
^ whom he instructed in philosophy a probatioDaiy 
silence of five years. Whether this prohibition of speech 
extended to all the parts of this time, as seems generally to 
be supposed, or was to be observed only in the school or in 
the presence of their master, as is more probable, it was 
sufficient to discover the pupil's disposition ; to try whether 


ing to pay the price of learning ; or whether he 

F those whose ardour was rather violeot than 
I who expected to grow wise on other terms than 
tience and obedience. 

the blessings universally desired, are very 

wanted, because most men, when they should 
itenl themselves to complain, and rather linger in 
thich they cannot be at rest, than improve their 
jy vigour and resolution. 
e has fixed the limits of human enjoyment by 

: boundaries, and has set different gratifications 
Jistance from each other, that no art or power can 
1 together. This great law it is the business of 
nal being to understand, that life may not pass 

1 attempt to make contradictions consistent, to 
pposite qualities, and to unite things which the 
heir being must always keep asunder, 
objects tempting at a distance on contrary sides, 
Bible to approach one but by receding from the 
long deliberation and dilatory projects, they may 

t, but can never be both gained. It is, therefore, 

compare them, and, when -we have determined 
withdraw our eyes and our thoughts at 

that which reason directs us to reject This is 
Esary, if tliat which we are forsaking has the power 
ng the senses, or firing the fancy. He that once 
! to the allurements of unlawful pleasure can have 
r that he shall ever regain the paths of virtue, 
losophick goddess of Boethius, having related the 
rpheus, who, when he had recovered his wife from 
ins of death, lost her again by looking back 
1 the confines of light, concludes with a very 
, forcible application. Whoever you are that 


endeavour to elevate your minds to the illuminations of 
Heaven^ consider yourselves as represented in this fable : for 
he that is once so far overcome as to turn back his eyes 
towards the infernal caverns^ loses at the first sight all that 
influence which attracted him on high : 

*' Vos hsec fabula respicit, 
Quicunque in superum diem 
Mentem ducere quaeritis. 

Nam qui Tartareum in specus 
Victus lumina flexerit, 

Quidquid prsecipuum trahit, 
Perdit, dum videt inferos." 

It may be observed in general, that the future is 
purchased by the present. It is not possible to secure 
distant or permanent happiness but by the forbearance of 
some immediate gratification. This is so evidently true 
with regard to the whole of our existence, that all the 
precepts of theology have no other tendency than to enforce 
a life ot faith ; a life regulated not by our senses but our 
belief ; a life in which pleasures are to be refused for fear of 
invisible punishments, and calamities sometimes to be 
sought, and always endured, in hopes of rewards that shall 
be obtained in another state. 

Even if we take into our view only that particle of our 
duration which is terminated by the grave, it will be found 
that we cannot enjoy one part of life beyond the common 
limitations of pleasure, but by anticipating some of the 
satisfaction which should exhilarate the following years. 
The heat of youth may spread happiness into wild 
luxuriance; but the radical vigour requisite to make it 
perennial is exhausted, and all that can be hoped afterwards 
is languor and sterility. 


t reigning error 
^the conditions c 


nkind is, tlint we arc not c 

II which the g 

s of life are 


an is insensible of the value of knowledge, t 
tagcs of health, or the convenience of plenty, but evt 
day shows us those on whom tlie conviction is withoL 

Knowledge is praised and desired by multitudes whom >] 
her charms could never rouse from the couch of sloth; 
whom the faintest invitation of pleasure draws away from 
their studies ; to whom any other method of wearing out 
the day is more eligible than the use of books, and who are 
more easily engaged by any conversation, than such as may J 
rectify their notions or enlarge their comprehensiorL 

Every man that has felt pain, knows how httle all other 1 
comforts can gladden him to whom health is denied. 
Yet who is there does not sometimes hazard it for the 
enjoyment of an hour ? All assemblies of jolUty, all places 
of publick entertainment, exhibit examples of strength 
wasting in riot, and beauty withering in irregularity ; nor h 
it easy to enter a house in which part of the family is nol 
groaning in repentance of past intemperance, and part 
admitting disease by negligence, or soliciting it by luxury. 

There is no pleasure which men of every age and sect 
have more generally agreed to mention with contempt, than 
the g^tiiication of the palate ; an entertainment so far 
removed from intellectual happiness, that scarcely the most 
shameless of the sensual herd have dared to defend it : yet 
eren to this, the lowest of our delights, to this, though 
neither quick nor lasting, is health with all its activity and 

E5 daily sacrificed ; and for this are half the 
iured which urge impatience to call on death, 
lie world is put in motion by the wish for 
the dread of poverty. Who then would not 


^gC that such conduct as will inevitably destroy what 

^jl^ thus labouring to acquire, must generally be avoided? 

ipi he who spends more than he receives, must in time 

jx>me indigent, cannot be doubted; but, how evident 

aver this consequence may appear, the spendthrift moves 

X the whirl of pleasure with too much rapidity to keep it 

Defore his eyes, and, in the intoxication of gaiety, grows 

every day poorer without any such sense of approaching 

ruin as is sufficient to wake him into caution. 

Many complaints are made of the misery of life ; and 
indeed it must be confessed that we are subject to calamities 
by which the good and bad, the diligent and slothful, ^ 
the viligant and heedless, are equally afflicted. But surely, ^ 
though some indulgence may be allowed to groans extorted^ 
by inevitable misery, no man has a right to repine at evilF=3 
which, against warning, against experience, he deliberately^ 
and leisurely brings upon his own head; or to considers. 

himself as debarred from happiness by such obstacles a 

resolution may break or dexterity may put aside. 

Great numbers who quarrel with their condition, ha^r-« 
wanted not the power but the will to obtain a better stat^- 
They have never contemplated the difference between good 
and evil sufficiently to quicken aversion, or invigorate 
desire; they have indulged a drowsy thoughtfulness or 
giddy levity; have committed the balance of choice to 
the management of caprice; and when they have long 
accustomed themselves to receive all that chance offered 
them, without examination, lament at last that they find 
themselves deceived. 


Tuesday y December 24, 1751. 

" At vindicta banum vita jucundius ipsa^ 
Nempe hoc indocti, -^— 
ChrysippuSt non dicit identy nee mite ThaUtis 
Ingeniunty dulcique senex vidnus Hymetto, 
Qui partem accepta sava inter Tfincla Cicuta 

Accusatari nollet dare, Quippe minuti 

Setnper, et infirmi est animi^ exiguiqm voluptas 

UlHor JDV. 

*' But O / Revenge is sweet. 
Thus think the crowd ; who, eager to engage, 
Take quickly fire, and kindle into rage. 
Not so mild Thales nor Chrysippus thought, 
Nor that good man who drank the pois'nous draught 
With mind serene, and could not wish to see 
Hb vile accuser drink as deep as he ; 
Exalted Socrates ! divinely brave 1 
Injur'd he fell, and dying he forgave, 
Too noble for revenge ; which still we find 
The weakest frailty of a feeble mind." Dryden. 

■^O vicious dispositions of the mind more obstinately 
-*-^ resist both the counsels of philosophy and the 
injunctions of religion, than those which are complicated 
with an opinion of dignity ; and which we cannot dismiss 
without leaving in the hands of opposition some advantage 
iniquitously obtained, or suffering from our own prejudices 
some imputation of pusillanimity. 

For this reason, scarcely any law of our Redeemer is 
more openly transgressed, or more industriously evaded, 
than that by which he commands his followers to forgive 
injuries, and prohibits, under the sanction of eternal misery, 



ihe gratification of the desire which every man feels to 
return pain upon him that inflicts it Many who could 
have conquered their anger, are unable to combat pride, 
and pursue offences to extremity of vengeance, lest they 
should be insulted by the triumph of an enemy. 

But certainly no precept could better become him, at 
whose birth peace was proclaimed to the earth. For, what 
would so soon destroy all the order of society, and deform 
life with violence and ravage, as a permission to every one 
to judge his own cause, and to apportion his own 
recompense for imagined injuries ? 

It is difficult for a man of the strictest justice not to 
favour himself too much, in the calmest moments of solitary 
meditation. Every one wishes for the distinctions for which 
thousands are wishing at the same time, in their own 
opinion, with better claims. He that, when his reason 
operates in its full force, can thus, by the mere prevalence 
of self-love, prefer himself to his fellow-beings, is very unlikely ' 
to judge equitably when his passions are agitated by a sense= 
of wrong, and his attention wholly engrossed by pain,, 
interest, or danger. Whoever arrogates to himself the right 
of vengeance, shows how little he is qualified to decide 
his own claims, since he certainly demands what he would 
think unfit to be granted to another. 

Nothing is more apparent, than that, however injured or 
however provoked, some must at last be contented to 
forgive. For, it can never be hoped that he who first 
commits an injury will contentedly acquiesce in the penalty 
required : the same haughtiness of contempt, or vehemence 
of desire, that prompts the act of injustice, will more 
strongly incite its justification; and resentment can never 
so exactly balance the punishment with the feult, but there 
will remain an overplus of vengeance, which even he who 


condemns his first action will think himself entitled to 
retaliate. What then can ensue but a continual exacerbation 
of hatred, an unextinguishable feud, an incessant reciproca- 
tion of mischief, a mutual vigilance to ectrEip, and eagerness 
to destroy ? 

Since then the imaginary right of vengeance must be at 

last remitted, because it is impossible to live in perpetual 

y, -^hostility, and equally impossible that of two enemies, either 

■M^buld first think himself obhged by justice to submission, 

^^■b surely eligible to forgive early. Every passion ts more 

^^^ply subdued before it has been long accustomed to 

^^^ssession of the heart ; every idea is obliterated witli less 

difGculty, as it has been more slightly impressed, and less 

frequently renewed. He who has often brooded over his 

wrongs, pleased himself with schemes of malignity, and 

glutted his pride with the fancied supplications of humbled 

enmity, will not easily open his bosom to amity and 

reconciliation, or indulge the gentle sentiments of benevo 

lence and peace. 

It is easiest to forgive while there is yet little to be 
forgiven. A single injury may be soon dismissed from the 
memory; but a long succession of ill offices by degrees 
associates itself with every idea; a long contest involves so 
many circumstances, that every place and action will recall 
it to the mind ; and fresh remembrance of vexation must 
still enkindle rage, and irritate revenge. 

A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows 
the true value of time, and will not suffer it to pass away in 
nnnecessary pain. He that willingly suffers the corrosions 
of inveterate hatred, and gives up his days and nights to the 

Im of malice and perturbations of stratagem, cannot 
ly be said to consult his ease. Resentment is an union 
STOW iritb mahgnity, a combination of a passion which 




all endeavour to avoid, vrith a passion which all concur 
to detest. The man who retires to meditate mischief, 
and to exasperate his own rage; whose thoughts are 
employed only on means of distress and contrivances of 
ruin ; whose mind never pauses from the remembrance of 
his own sufferings, but to indulge some hope of enjoying the 
calamities of another, may justly be numbered among the 
most miserable of human beings, among those who arc 
guilty without reward, who have neither the gladness of "; 
prosperity, nor the calm of innocence. 

Whoever considers the weakness both of himself and. 
others, will not long want persuasives to forgiveness. Wf— =^~p 
know not to what degree of malignity any injury is to be^^^e 
imputed; or how much its guilt, if we were to inspect th^^»-ae 
mind of him that committed it, would be extenuated b)^^*!^' 
mistake, precipitance, or negligence: we cannot be certaiir::*: -itt 
how much more we feel than was intended to be inflicted; W S^ 
or how much we increase the mischief to ourselves bjg 
voluntary aggravations. We may charge to design tha 
effects of accident ; we may think the blow violent, ouIe 
because we have made ourselves delicate and tender; w» 
are on every side in danger of error and of guilt ; which wa 
are certain to avoid only by speedy forgiveness. 

From this pacifick and harmless temper, thus propitiousJ 
to others and ourselves, to domestick tranquillity and to 
social happiness, no man is withheld but by pride, by th^ 
fear of being insulted by his adversary, or despised by th^^ -* 

It may be laid down as an unfailing and universal axiom 
that "all pride is abject and mean." It is always ; 
ignorant, lazy, or cowardly acquiescence in a false appeai^^^' j 
ance of excellence, and proceeds not from consciousnes 
of our attainments, but insensibility of our wants. 


■ Nothing can be great which is not right. Jothing which 
^on condemns can be suiiable to th«ignity of the 
lluman mind To be driven by external 'Aives from the 
I>ath which our own heart approves ; K^ve way to any 
tiling but conviction ; to suffer the opinif if others to rule 
<iur choice, or overpower our resolves ; ' t> submit tamely 
to the lowest and most ignominious sljy, and to resign 
the right of directing our own lives. ~ 

The utmost excellence at which huml*^ can arrive, ia a 
Constant and determinate pursuit of V -fc, without regard 
to present dangers or advantage; a cc fmal reference of 
^^ery action to the divine will ; an ''■hitual appeal to 
fev^Iasting justice ; and an unvarie(if4ievation of the 
intelleclual eye to the reward which persyj-rance only can 
obtain. But that pride which nnany, whoyesmnc to boast 
of generous sentiments, allow to regulate t^jr measures, has 
notbing nobler in view than the approb^ion of men; of 
beings whose superiority we are under ^q obligation to 
acknowledge, and who, when we have ciu^ed them with 
the utmost assiduity, can confer no valua^c or permanent 
reward ; of beings who ignorantly judge of^^^at they do not 
understand, or partially determine whatt^j^gy never have 
examined ; and whose sentence is tlier^^ of no weight 
till it has received the ratification of our a^ conscience. 

He that can descend to bribe suffrages (\ii[e these, at the 

price of his innocence; he that can sufi(v the deUght of 

such acclamations lo witlihold his at_^ntion from the 

commands of the universal Sovereign, ht- little reason to 

congratulate himself upon the greatnes^, of his mind : 

whenever he awakes to seriousness and rii^gciion, he must 

^^^^ecome despicable in his own eyes, and shrink with shame 

^^HjDin the remembrance of his cowardice ami, foil;. 

^^^^Jf iiiin that hopes to be forgiven, it ^g indispensably 


required thau forgive. It is therefore superfluous to urge 
any other mo^ On this great duty eternity is suspended ; 
and to him th^efuses to practise it, the throne of mercy is 
inaccessible, ai the Saviour of the world has be«i bom 
in vain. 

Siurday, February i, 1752. 

" Multajunt anni venientes commoda secum, 
Multa MfUntes adimunt, ' ' HOR. 

" The \ ^higs flowing in with life's fall tide 
Dow*//th our ebb of life decreasing gfide." Francis. 


p) AXTER, iaf^e narrative of his own life, has enum- 
^ erated sejfal opinions, which, though he thoughts 
them evident Zi\ incontestable at his first entrance into 
the world, timeD>d experience disposed him to change. 

Whoever re\i»'^s the state of his own mind from the 
dawn of manhof^ to its decline, and considers what he 
pursued or dr^ded, slighted or esteemed, at different 
periods of hisifee, will have no reasonjto imagine such 
changes of seminent peculiar to any station or chaxactCL 
Every man, hoover careless and inattentive, has convic- 
tion forced upjn him; the lectures of time obtrude 
themselves uponlthe most unwilling or dissipated auditor; 
and, by compaing our past with our present thoughts, 
we perceive thit we have changed our minds, though 
perhaps we cannot discover when the alteration happen^ 
or by what caus^ it was produced. 

This revolut):>n of sentimen ts occasions, a perpetual. 


193 I 

*Xinlest bet ween the_old and young. They who imagine 

themselves entitled to veneration by the prerogative of 

longer l[fe, are mcIinfiH. to treat the notions of "those 

fhose contiuct they superintend with superciliousness and 

Wntempt, for want of considering that the future ahd 

■^joast have different appearances ; that the disproportion 

^raiways be great between expectation and enjoyment, 

qetween new possession and satiety; that the truth of 

^*»y maxims of age gives too little pleasure to be allowed 

f^ it is felt; and that the miseries of life would be 

^Creased beyond all human power of endurance, if h 

'^ie to enter the world with the same opinions as wej 

^JCjj from it 

"^ e natur ally indulge those ideas that please us, HOPO, 
'^^ll-piedaiuiiiate in every mind, till it has been suppressed 
"it.Jrequent disappointments. The youth has not yet 
^scovered how many evils are continually hovering about 
*«,.and when he is set free from the shackles of disciplme, 
'"^iks abroad into the world with rapture ; he sees an , 
^lysian region open before him, so variegated with beauty, 
&nd so stored with pleasure, that his care is rather to 
Sccuraulate good, than to shun evil ; be stands distracted 
by different forms of delight, and has no other doubt, 
titan which path to follow of those which all lead equally 
to the bowers of happiness. 

He who .bas seen only the superficies of life beljeve3_ 
every thing to t>e what it appears, and rarely suspects chat._ 
extern^ spTehHour conceals any latent sorrow or vexation. 
He never imagines that there may be greatness without 
saifety , afRuence without content, jollity without friendship, 
tsjdejfithoul pracc. He fancies himself permitted 
I the blessings of every condition, and to leave its 
niiencies to the idle and the ignorant He {3 

n ~, 


inclined to believe no m^ miserable but by his own fault, 
and seldom looks with much pity upon failings or mis- 
carriages, because he thinks them willingly admitted, or 
negligently incurred. impossible, withoutpii^ And. CQJltempt,. to.hfiaui 
youth of generous sentiments and warm imaginatio: 
declaring in the. moment of ^pennesj^andjconfidence, 
designs and expectations ; because _ long li fe is possibi 
h& considers it as certain, and therefore promises 

all the changes of happiness, and provides gratificati 
for every desire. He is, for a time, to give himself wholl; 
to frolick and diversion, to range the world in search 
pleasure, to delight every eye, to gain every heart, and t 
be celebrated equally for his pleasing levities and soli 
attainments, his deep reflections and his sparkling 

He then elevates his views to nobler enjoyments, an.<i 
finds all the scattered excellencies of the female worL<i 
united in a woman, who prefers his addresses to wealth 
and titles ; he is afterwards to engage in business^ to 
dissipate difficulty, and overpower opposition; to climb^ 
by the mere force of merit, to fame and greatness; and 
reward all those who countenanced his rise, or paid due 
regard to his early excellence. At last he will retire in 
peace and honour; contract his views to domestick 
pleasures; form the manners of children like himself; 
observe how every year expands the beauty of his 
daughters, and how his sons catch ardour from their fiithei's 
history; he will give laws to the neighbourhood; dictate 
axioms to posterity ; and leave the world an example of 
wisdom and happiness. 

With hopes like these, he sallies jocund jntojife ; to 
little purpose is he told, that the condition pf.humapity 
admits no pure and unmingled happiness; that the 


exuberant gaiety of youth ends in poverty or disease; 
Ihal uncommon qualifications and contrarieties of excellence, 
produce envy equally with applause ; that, whatever admir- 
ation and fondness may promise him, he must marry a 
wife like the wives of others, with some virtues and some 
faults, and be as often disgusted by her vices, as delighted 
by her elegance ; that if he adventures into the circle 
of action, he most expect to encounter men as artful, as 
daring, as resolute as himself; that of his children, some 
may be deformed, and others vicious ; some may disgrace 
him by their follies, some offend him by their insolence, 
(uid some exhaust him by their profusion. He hears all 
this with obstinate incredulity, and wonders by what 
malignity old age is influenced, that it cannot forbear to 
fill his ears with predictions of misery. 

Among other pleasing errours of young minds , is the 
opmion of th ei r own importan ce. He that has not yet 
remarked how little attention his contemporaries can spare 
from their own affairs, ^conceives all eyes turned upon 
liini5eH-and imagines every one that approaches him to be 
an enemy or a follower, an admirer or a spy. He therefore 
considers his fame as involved in the event of every action. 
i jany of th^ and vices of youth proceed from this 
qnick sense of reputation. This it is that gives firmness 
and constancy, fidelity and disinterestedness, and it is this 
that kindles resentment for slight injuries, and dictates all 
the principles of sanguinary honour. 

But^s time brings him forward into the world, he soon 
discoyers that he only shares fame or reproach with 
jjamimerable parinLTs ; that he is left unmarked in the 
olwciirity of the crowd ; and that what he does, whether 
good or bad, soon gives way to new objects of regard. He 
iben-«a«i(y-Bets himself free from tbe anxieties of reputation. 


and considers praise or censure as a transient breath, which, 
while' he 'iiears*' It, is ""^assmg^away, without any lasting 
mischief or advantage. 

In youth, it is common to measure right and wrong by 
the opinion of^the world, and in a^e, tQ_flCt idfcQ ut afiy 
measure but inlierest, and to lose .shame 

jSuchis.the condition. 
wanting to happiness.* In youth, we ha ve w arm hopes^ 
which are soon blasted by rashness^ an d neglige nce, agi 
great designs, which are defeated by inexpeofigce. 
we have knowledge and pm/^An/^A wifh/Mif cpirif ^r. fyf^f^ 
motives to prompt them j^ we are able t n plan srhrmrT, in^a. 
regulate measures ; but have not ti me rem aipj"g tft h"*^^ 
them to completion. 

Tv£sday, Febrttary i8, 1752. 

" -rSanctus hdberi 

Promissique tenax dictis facHsque tnereris f 

Agnosco procerem, " Juv. 

'* G)nvince the world that you're devout and true ; 
Be just in all you say, and all you do ; 
Whatever be your birth, you're sure to be 
A peer of the first magnitude to me." Stepney. 

"DOYLE has observed, that the excellency of manu- 
^ factures and the facility of labour would be much 
promoted, if the various expedients and contrivances which 
lie concealed in private hands, were by reciprocal communi- 
cations made generally known ; for there are few operations 

* Note XVI., Appendix. 


that arc not performed by one or other with some peculiar 
advantages, which, though singly of little importance 
would, by conjunction and concurrence, open new inlets to 
knowledge, and give new powers to diligence. 

There are, in like manner, several moral escellencies 
distributed among the different classes of a community. It 
was said by Cujacius, that he never read more than one 
book by which he was not instructed ; and he that shall 
inquire after virtue with ardour and attention, will seldom 
find a man by whose example or sentiments he may not be 

Every profession has some essential and appropriate 
yirtue, without which there can be no hope of honour or 
success, and which, as it is more or less cultivated, confers 
within its sphere of activity different degrees of merit and 
reputation. As the astrologers range the subdivisions of 
mankind under the planets which they suppose to influence 
their lives, the moralist may distribute them according to 
the virtues which they necessarily practise, and consider 
Ihem as distinguished by prudence or fortitude, diligence or 

So much are the modes of excellence settled by time and 
place, that men may be heard boasting in one street of that 
which they would anxiously conceal in another. The 
grounds of scorn and esteem, the topicks of praise and 
satire, are varied according to tlie several virtues or vices 
which the course of life has disposed men Id admire or 
abhor ; but he who is solicitous for his own improvement 
must not be limited by local reputation, but select from 
every tribe of mortals their characteristical virtues, and 
constellate in himself the scattered graces- which shine 
■ingle in other men. 

The chief praise to which a trader aspires is that of 


punctuality,* or an exact and rigorous observance of 
commercial engagements ; nor is there any vice of which he 
so much dreads the imputation, as of negligence and 
instability. This is a quality which the interest of mankind 
requires to be diffused through all the ranks of life, but 
which many seem to consider as a vulgar and ignoble 
virtue, below the ambition of greatness or attention of wit, 
scarcely requisite among men of gaiety and spirit, and sold 
at its highest rate when it is sacrificed to a frolick or a 

Every man has daily occasion to remark what vexations 
arise from this privilege of deceiving one another. The 
active and vivacious have so long disdained the restraints of 
truth, that promises and appointments have lost their 
cogency, and both parties neglect their stipulations, because 
each concludes that they will be broken by the other. 

. Negligence is first admitted in small affairs, and strength- 
ened by petty indulgences. He that is not yet hardened 
by custom, ventures not on the violation of important 
engagements, but thinks himself bound by his word in cases 
of property or danger, though he allows himself to forget at 
what time he is to meet ladies in the Park, or at what tavern 
his friends are expecting him. 

This laxity of honour would be more tolerable, if it could 
be restrained to the play-house, the ball-room, or the 
card-table ; yet even there it is sufficiently troublesome, and 
darkens those moments with expectation, suspense, and 
resentment, which are set aside for pleasure, and from which 
we naturally hope for unmingled enjoyment and total 
relaxation. But he that suffers the slightest breach in his 
morality can seldom tell what shall enter it, or how wide it 

* Note XVII., Appendix. 


shall be made ; when a passage is open, the influx of 
corruption is every moment wearing down opposition, and 
by slow degrees deluges the heart. 

Aliger entered the world a youth of lively imagination, 

extensive views, and untainted principles. His curiosity 

incited him to range from place to place, and try all the 

varieties of conversation ; his elegance of address and 

fertility of ideas gained him friends wherever he appeared ; 

or at least he found the general kindness of reception always 

shown to a young man whose birth and fortune gave him a 

claim to notice, and who has neither by vice or folly 

destroyed his privileges. Aliger was pleased with this 

general smile of mankind, and was industrious to preserve 

it by compliance and officiousness, but did not suffer his 

desire of pleasing to vitiate his integrity. It was his 

established maxim, that a promise is never to be broken ; 

nor was it without long reluctance that he once suffered 

himself to be drawn away from a festal engagement by the 

importunity of another company. 

He spent the evening, as is usual in the rudiments of vice, 
in perturbation and imperfect enjoyment, and met his 
disappointed friends in the morning with confusion and 
excuses. His companions, not accustomed to such scrupu- 
lous anxiety, laughed at his uneasiness, compounded the 
offence for a bottle, gave him courage to break his word 
again, and again levied the penalty. He ventured the same 
experiment upon another society, and found them equally 
ready to consider it as a venal fault, always incident to a 
man of quickness and gaiety ; till, by degrees, he began to 
think himself at liberty to follow the last invitation, and was 
no longer shocked at the turpitude of falsehood. He made 
no difficulty to promise his presence at distant places ; and, 
if listlessness happened to creep upon him, would sit at 


home with great tranquillity, and has often sunk to sleep in 
a chair, while he held ten tables in continual expectations of 
his entrance. 

It was so pleasant to live in perpetual vacancy, that he 
soon dismissed his attention as an useless incumbrance, an^ 
resigned himself to carelessness and dissipation, without at^l^ 
regard to the future or the past, or any other motive O* 
action than the impulse of a sudden desire, or the attractio'*^ 
of immediate pleasure. The absent were immediate!-^ 
forgotten, and the hopes or fears felt by others had rm^^ 
influence upon his conduct He was in speculatic^^ 
completely just, but never kept his promise to a creditor 
he was benevolent, but always deceived those friends who»==^ 
he undertook to patronize or assist; he was prudent, biu^ 
suffered his affairs to be embarrassed for want of regulating 
his accounts at stated times. He courted a young lad-3>' 
and, when the settlements were drawn, took a ramble xvl^c 
the country on the day appointed to sign them. lr£e 
resolved to travel, and sent his chests on ship-board but 
delayed to follow them till he lost his passage. He was 
summoned as an evidence in a cause of great importance, 
and loitered on the way till the trial was past. It is said 
that when he had, with great expense, formed an interest in 
a borough, his opponents contrived, by some agents who 
knew his temper, to lure him away on the day of election. 

His benevolence draws him into the commission of a 
thousand crimes, which others less kind or civil would 
escape. His courtesy invites application ; his promises 
produce dependence ; he has his pockets filled with 
petitions, which he intends some time to deliver and enforce, 
and his table covered with letters of request, with which he 
purposes to comply ; but time slips imperceptibly away, 
while he is either idle or busy; his friends lose their 


opportunities, and charge upon him their miscarriages and 

This character, however contemptible, is not pecuh'ar to 
Aliger. They whose activity of imagination is often shifting 
the scenes of expectation, are frequently subject to such 
sallies of caprice as make all their actions fortuitous, 
destroy the value of their friendship, obstruct the efficacy of 
their virtues, and set them below the meanest of those that 
persist in their resolutions, execute what they design, and 
perform what they have promised. 

Saturday, March 7, 1752. 

" Propositi nondum pudet, at que eadem est mens^ 

Ut bona summa putes^ aliena vivere quadrd." Juv. 

'* But hardened by affronts, and still the same, 
Lost to all sense of honour and of fame, 
Thou yet canst love to haunt the great man's board, 
And think no supper good but with a lord.'* Bowles. 

^1 rHEN Diogenes was once asked, what kind of wine he 
^^ Uked best, he answered, "That which is drunk at 
the cost of others." 

Though the character of Diogenes has never excited any 
general zeal of imitation, there are many who resemble him 
in his taste of wine; many who are frugal, though not 
abstemious; whose appetites, though too powerful for 
reason, are kept under restraint by avarice ; and to whom 
all delicacies lose their flavour, when they cannot be 
obtained but at their own expense. 

Nothing produces more singularity of manners, and 


inconstancy of life, than the conflict of opposite vices in 
the same mind. He that uniformly pursues any purpose, 
whether good or bad, has a settled principle of action ; and, 
as he may always find associates who are travelling the 
way, is countenanced by example, and sheltered in the 
multitude ; but a man actuated at once by different desires 
must move in a direction peculiar to himself, and suffer 
reproach which we are naturally inclined to bestow on th< 
who deviate from the rest of the world, even withoi 
inquiring whether they are worse or better. 

Yet this conflict of desires sometimes produces wonderf^jj 
efforts. To riot in far-fetched dishes, or surfeit with 
unexhausted variety, and yet practise the most ri^md 
economy, is surely an art which may justly draw the 
of mankind upon them whose industry or judgment 
enabled them to attain it. To him, indeed, who is content 
to break open the chests or mortgage the manors of l:iis 
ancestors, that he may hire the ministers of excess at t:lie " 
highest price, gluttony is an easy science : yet we often h-^jar 
the votaries of luxury boasting of the elegance which tfaey 
owe to the taste of others ; relating with rapture the siJC- 
cession of dishes with which their cooks and caterers supply 
them; and expecting their share of praise with the <3is- 
coverers of arts and the civilizers of nations. But to shorten 
the way to convivial happiness, by eating without cost, is a 
secret hitherto in few hands, but which certainly deserves 
the curiosity of those whose principal employment is their 
dinner, and who see the sun rise with no other hope than 
that they shall fill their bellies before it sets. 

Of them that have within my knowledge attempted this 
scheme of happiness, the greater part have been immediately 
obliged to desist; and some, whom their first attempts 
flattered with success, were reduced by degrees to a few 


ibles, from which they were at last chased to make way for 
:hers; and, having long habituated themselves to super- 
nous plenty, growled away their latter years in discontented 

None enter the regions of luxury with higher expectations 
lan men of wit, who imagine that they shall never want a 
elcome to that company whose ideas they can enlarge, or 
hose imaginations they can elevate, and believe themselves 
>le to pay for their wine with the mirth which it qualifies 
lem to produce. Full of this opinion, they crowd with 
tie invitation wherever the smell of a feast allures them, 
It are seldom encouraged to repeat their visits, being 
-eaded by the pert as rivals, and hated by the dull as 
sturbers of the company. 

No man has been so happy in gaining and keeping the 
dvilege of living at luxurious houses as Gulosulus, who, 
ter thirty years of continual revelry, has now established, 
\f uncontroverted prescription, his claim to partake of 
.rery entertainment, and whose presence they who aspire to 
le praise of a sumptuous table are careful to procure on a 
ay of importance, by sending the invitation a fortnight 

Gulosulus entered the world without any eminent degree 
f merit ; but was careful to frequent houses where persons 
f rank resorted. By being often seen, he became in time 
nown ; and, from sitting in the same room, was suffered to 
lix in idle conversation, or assisted to fill up a vacant hour, 
rhen better amusement was not readily to be had. From 
be coffee-house he was sometimes taken away to dinner ; 
.nd, as no man refuses the acquaintance of him whom he 
ees admitted to familiarity by others of equal dignity, when 
le had been met at a few tables, he with less difficulty found 
he way to more, till at last he was regularly expected to 


appear wherever preparations are made for a feast, yn\ 
the circuit of his acquaintance. 

When he was thus by accident initiated in luxury, he fe 
in himself no inclination to retire from a life of so mu( 
pleasure, and therefore very seriously considered how 
might continue it. Great qualities, or uncommon 
plishments, he did not find necessary ; for he had aire 
seen that merit rather enforces respect than attracn-Cs 
fondness ; and as he thought no folly greater than that ^oi 
losing a dinner for any other gratification, he oftc^n 
congratulated himself, that he had none of that disgustiMng 
excellence which impresses awe upon greatness, and co«3- 
demns its possessors to the society of those who are wise or 
brave, and indigent as themselves. 

Gulosulus, having never allotted much of his time to 
books or meditation, had no opinion in philosophy <^ 
politicks, and was not in danger of injuring his interest 
by dogmatical positions, or violent contradiction. If 
a dispute arose, he took care to listen with earnest 
attention ; and, when either speaker grew vehement a^d 
loud, turned towards him with eager quickness, and uttered 
a short phrase of admiration, as if surprised by such 
cogency of argument as he had never known before. By 
this silent concession, he generally preserved in either 
controvertist such a conviction of his own superiority^ ^ 
inclined him rather to pity than irritate his adversary, and 
prevented those outrages which are sometimes produced by 
the rage of defeat, or petulance of triumph. 

Gulosulus was never embarrassed but when he was 
required to declare his sentiments before he had been able 
to discover to which side the master of the house inclined > 
for it was his invariable rule to adopt the notions of thos^ 
that invited him. 


It will sometimes happen that the insolence of wealth 
reaks into contemptuousness, or the turbulence of wine 
iquires a vent ; and Gulosulus seldom fails of being singled 
at on such emergencies, as one on whom any experiment 
r ribaldry may be safely tried. Sometimes his lordship 
ids himself inclined to exhibit a specimen of raillery for 
le diversion of his guests, and Gulosulus always supplies 
m with a subject of merriment. But he has learned to 
>nsider rudeness and indignities as familiarities that entitle 
^m to greater freedom : he comforts himself, that those 
ho treat and insult him pay for their laughter, and that he 
ieps his money while they enjoy their jest. 

His chief policy consists in selecting some dish from 
^ery course, and recommending it to the company, with 
I air so decisive, that no one ventures to contradict him. 
y this practice he acquires at a feast a kind of dictatorial 
ithority; his taste becomes the standard of pickles and 
asoning, and he is venerated by the professors of 
licurism, as the only man who understands the niceties of 

Whenever a new sauce is imported, or any innovation 
ade in the culinary system, he procures the earliest 
telligence, and the most authentick receipt; and, by 
immunicating his knowledge under proper injunctions of 
crecy, gains a right of tasting his own dish whenever it is 
epared, that he may tell whether his directions have been 
lly understood. 

By this method of life Gulosulus has so impressed on his 
aagination the dignity of feasting, that he has no other 
>pick of talk, or subject of meditation. His calendar is a 
ill of fare ; he measures the year by successive dainties, 
'he only common places of his memory are his meals ; and 
f you ask him at what time an event happened, he considers 


whether he heard it after a dinner of turbot or venis(HL^ 
He knows, indeed, that those who value themselves upocr: 
sense, learning, or piety, speak of him ¥rith contempt ; bo^a 
he considers them as wretches, envious or ignorant, who d^- 
not know his happiness, or ¥rish to supplant him ; an _ 
declares to his friends, that he is fully satisfied with his 
conduct, since he has fed every day on twenty dishes^ 
yet doubled his estate. 

Tttesday, March lo, 1752. 

" Solve senescentem mature sanus eguum, ne 
Peccet ad extremum ridendus*^ HOR« 

''The voice of reason cries with winning force. 
Loose from the rapid car your aged horse, 
Lest, in the race derided, left behind. 
He drag his jaded limbs and burst his wind." FsANClS. 

OUCH is the emptiness of human enjoyment^ t hat wg 
.are always JTPpaf iftnt . of . the. prftspnt, Attainmentig 
followed by neglect, and possession, by disgusfc; and thr 
malicious remark of the Greek epigrammatist on marriag 
may be applied to every other course of life, that its t? 
days of happiness are the first and the last. 

Few moments are more pleasing t han those in w]iirh 
mind is concerting measures for a new undertaking..^ Fi 
the first hint that wakens the fancy till the hour of ac 
execution, all is improvement and progress, triumph 
feHcity. Every hour brings additions to the original sch 
suggests some new expedient to secure success, or disc 
consequential advantages not hitherto foreseen. 


ions are made, and materials accumulated, day 
fter day through elysian prospects, and the heart 

is th ^ p^^^^nrff Vf pr oiectinpr, th at many content 
:£S..with a .^ttCCeSSJQn . of. .3isionajx^§ch,^nieSj,,^ 
t^lbe k a llott o d time in th o calm amusomont of 

Ig wjiat .Ujsx ngyeiLattfimpl; or„hopfi to pyrnitff. 

^ nf)X flhle \ ci f east their imagina tion wjfh pnrp 
:at diligence collect whatever is requisite to their 

ind, gfi<*r fl thrtnganH rpgparrhpc nnH rnnmltntinnr 

r1i^rl^jwai^hy_dfP*^^j ^^ th ^y Stand in^ roHn€hi 
vT^ proper nppnrtnTTiity to begin. 

!re were no other end o f l ife, than to find some 
i solace for every day ^ X know not ; whfthf^r ^ny 
n could bfi prfifiprrf^H tr> that .of the mnn who 
himsel f in his own thoughts, and. -never .sufifirs 
pf tn 'ihfr^T him fhf vnnity n^* nponn htion ; for no 
re notions reduced to practice, than tranquillity and 
ce lorsakft. the JargasFT every d^'Y brings its task, 
1 without bringing abilities to perform it ; difficulties 
5S, uncertainty perplexes, opposition retards, censure 
tes, or neglect depresses. We proceed because we 
;un ; we complete our design that the labour already 
ly not be in vain : but^ -as e xpectatio n gradu ally dies. _ 
e gay smile of alacrity disappears, we are compelled- 
re^seVefeTpowers, and trust the event to patience 

-onceLouL^labour has begun, the comfort that 
us to endure_ it is the prospect of- Tte endy'lbf" 
n every long work there are some joyous intervals 
ipplause, when the attention is recreated by 
ted facility, and the imagination soothed by 

incidental excellencies ; yet ihe toil with which perforau 
struggles after idea, is so irksorae and disgusting; am 
frequent is the necessity of resting, belaw ibal p erfec 
which we imagined within our reach ,_thatse|dom_an2j 
obtains more from his endeavours than a painf^cfflivic 
oLhi.s defects, and a continual resuscitation. of desires wl 
he feels himself unabl-e to gratify. 

So certainly is w_earincss the concomitant oLourjug 
takings, that every man, in whitfYcr bf ii pne?gpH, rnni 
himself with the hope of change ; if he has made his 
by assiduity to publick employment, he talks among 
friends of the delight of retreat; if, by the necessit 
solitary application, he is secluded from the world, 
listertB with a beating heart to distant noises, long 
mingle wiih living beings, and resolves to take hereafle] 
fill of diversions, or display his abilities on the uniw 
theatre, and enjoy the pleasure of distinction and applai 

Every desire, however innocent, grows, dangeroasr-a 
long indulgence it becomes ascendant in the_iniiiji' ^ 
we have lieen much accustomed to consider any thii^ 
capable of giving happiness, it is not easy to restrain 
ardour, or to forbear some precipitation in our advai 
and irregularity in our pursuits, He that has cultivated 
tree, watched the swelling bud and opening blossom, 
pleased himself with computing how much every sun 
shower add to its growth, scarcely stays till the fruit 
obtained its maturity, but defeats his own cares by eagn 
to reward them. When we have diligently laboured for 
purpose, we are willing to believe that we have attaine 
and, because we have already done much, too sudd 
conclude that no more is to be done. 

All attraction is increased by the approadi oT 
attracting body. We never find ourselves so desiron 


finish, as in the latter part of our work, or so impatient of 
delay, as when we know that delay cannot be long. Thus_ 
inseasona ble impo rtunity of dis content may be partly 
g puted To^ laagufli: anH^JJ^arin^gg^ whirh must always 
oppress those more whose toil has been longer continued ; 
>ut the gre ater part usually proceeds from . frequent. 
:ontemplation of that ease which is ^ofiW-, considered, us 
wnth m reach, ^d whi( A|^jyhen it has once flattered our 
^ opes, we cannot suffer to b e withheld. 

In some of the noblest compositions of wit, the 
conclusion falls below the vigoiu: and spirit of the first 
books; and as a genius is not to be degraded by the 
imputation of human failings, the cause of this declension 
is commonly sought in the structure of the work, and 
Pbusible reasons are given why in the defective part less 
>nmment was necessary, or less could be admitted. But, 
'erhaps, the author would have confessed, that his fancy 
^ tired, and his perseverance broken ; and he knew his 
esign to be unfinished, but that, when he saw the end so 
Car, he could no longer refuse to be at rest. 

Against_ the instiUiti pfffg ^^ «-^ig ^'•^'g*^ npiatp^ the heart 
^culd be secured by alL.Jbe. cpn§iieratiQn&jKliicli-.once 
incurred to kindle the ar^ur pf enteuapisfi,. Whatever 
uptive fast ^'^^'^<*^ ^ ^^on, h as still greater Jjnrrt^ t^ fstimnlatft 
giseverancej since he that might have lain still at first in 
i^ameless obscurity, cannot afterwards desist but with 
^lamy and reproach. He, whom a doubtful promise of 
istant good could encourage to set difficulties at defiance, 
Ught not to remit his vigour, when he has almost obtained 
is recompense. To faint or loiter, when only the last efforts 
«"e required, is to steer the ship through tempests, and 
•bandon it to the winds in sight of land : it is to break the 
^ound and scatter the seed, and at last to neglect the harvest 



The masters of rhetorick direct, that the most fore 
arguments be produced in the latter part of an oration, 
they should be effaced or perplexed by supervenient imaj 
This precept may be justly extended to the series of 1 
Nothing is £uded with honour, whidiu4Qgs ^tjososl' 
y^\\t^T f^on \\ v>agft*^ It is not sufficient to maintain 

first vigour ; for excellence loses its effect upon the mind 
custom, as light after a time ceases to dazzle. Admirat 
must be continued by that novelty which first produced 
and how much soever is given, there must always be rea 
to imagine that more remains. 

/ We not only are most sensible of the last impressions, 
/ such is the unwillingness of mankind to admit transcend 
merit, that, though it be difficult to obliterate the repro{ 
Of miscarriages by any subsequent achievement, howe 
illustrious, yet the reputation raised by a long train 
success may be finally ruined by a single failure ; for we 
ness or error will be always remembered by that malice a 
envy which it gratifies. 

For the prevention of that disgrace, which lassitude s 
negligence may bring at last upon the greatest performanc 
it is necessary to proportion carefully, our. labour to < 
Strength. If the design comprises many parts, equ; 
essential, and therefore not to be separated, the only ti 
for caution is before we engage ; the powers of the m 
must be then impartially estimated, and it must be rem( 
bered, that not to complete the plan is not to have bej 
it ; and that nothing is done, while any thing is omitted. 

But if the task consists in the repetition of single acts, 
one of which derives its efficacy from the rest, it may 
attempted with less scruple, because there is always opp 
tunity to retreat with honour. The danger is only, lest 
expect from the world the indulgence with which most . 



It thPTnsf>lv<*g ; and in the hour of listlessness 
imagine, that the diligence of one day will atone for the 
idleness of another, and^th at appla use begun by approbation 

^fi that i^ bi"ig^1f wpary yj)! ^€^nr^ tyf^iy ^^^ pnKliyif 

Let him therefore lay down his employment, whatever it be, 
who can no longer exert his former activity or attention; 
let him not endeavour to struggle with censure, or 
obstinately infest the stage till a general hiss commands him 
to depart* 

• Note XVIII., Appendix. 





^KBSWORTH, a friend and warm admirer of Dr. Johnson, 
owards the close of I752| a new periodicali called the 
er, Johnson, at that time, was plunged in the deepest 
and though there can be little doubt, as Boswell says, that 
lawkesworth many valuable hints, it was not until the spring 
lowing year that he could be induced to take any personal 
he new undertaking. His first contribution, written in th« 
an imaginary letter, is dated significantly, *' Fleet Prison.*' 
^as, indeed, just then in the donjons of Giant Despair, for, 
his friends at the time remarked, he seemed to have reached 
ian of his melancholy. His friendship with Dr. Hawkesworth 
and cordial, and Boswell believes that Johnson buried his wife 
urchyard of Bromley, Kent, because Hawkesworth lived in 

Saturday^ April 2^^ i753« 

" Quicunque turpi fraude semel innctuiif 
Etiamsi vera diciy amittit fidem" PHiBD. 

" The wretch that often has deceiv'd. 
Though truth he speaks, is ne'er believ'd.** 

BN Aristotle was once asked, what a man could 
gain by uttering falsehoods? he replied, "Not to 
ted when he shall tell the truth." 


The character of a liar is at once so hateful and con< 
temptible, that even of those who have lost their virtue 
might be expected that from the violation of truth th( 
should be restrained by their pride. Almost every othe 
vice that disgraces human nature, may be kept in countenrr- 
ance by applause and association : the corrupter of 
innocence sees himself envied by the men, and at least n< 
detested by the women : the drunkard may easily un&^^e 
with beings, devoted like himself to noisy merriments ^n 
silent insensibility, who will celebrate his victories over t.1ie 
novices of intemperance, boast themselves the companioxis 
of his prowess, and tell with rapture of the multitudes whom 
unsuccessful emulation has hurried to the grave : even ^le 
robber and the cut-throat have their followers, who admire 
their address and intrepidity, their stratagems of rapine, and 
their fidelity to the gang. 

The liar, and only the liar, is invariably and universal/y 
despised, abandoned and disowned : he has no domestfck 
consolations, which he can oppose to the censure of man- 
kind ; he can retire to no fraternity, where his crimes may 
stand in the place of virtues ; but is given up to the hisses 
of the multitude, without friend and without apologist It 
is the peculiar condition of falsehood, to be equally detested 
by the good and bad : ** The devils," sajrs Sir Thomas 
Brown, "do not tell lies to one another; for truth is 
** necessary to all societies: nor can the society of heB 
" subsist without it" 

It is natiural to expect, that a crime thus generally 
detested should be generally avoided; at least, that non' 
should expose himself to unabated and unpitied infam' 
without an adequate temptation ; and that to guilt so easi 
detected, and so severely punished, an adequate temptati 
would not readily be found. 


fso it is, that in defiance of censure and contempt, 
S frequently violated ; and scarcely the most vigilant 
h3 tmremitted circumspection will secure him that mixes 
rith mankind, from being hourly deceived by men of whom 
; can scarcely be imagined, that they mean any injury to 
im or profit to themselves ; even where the subject of con- 
ersatjon could not have been expected to put the passions 
1 motion, or to have excited either hope or fear, or zeal or 
lalignity, sufficient to induce any man to put his reputation 
1 hazard, however little he might value it, or to overpower 
le love of truth, however weak might be its influence. 

The casuists have very diligently distinguished lies into 
heir several classes, according to their various degrees of 
nalignity : but they have, I think, generally omitted that 
rhicb is most common, and, perhaps, not least mis- 
hievous ; which, since the moralists have not given it a 
tam^ I shall distinguish as the lie of vanity. 

To vanity may justly be imputed most of the falsehoods, 
»hicli every man perceives hourly playing upon his ear, and, 
lerhapE, most of those that are propagated with success. 
To the lie of commerce, and the lie of malice, the motive 
s so apparent, that they are seldom negligently or implicitly 
■eceived : suspicion is always watchful over the practices of 
merest ; and whatever the hope of gain, or desire of 
nischief, can prompt one man to assert, another is by 
vasons equally cogent incited to refute. But vanity pleases 
lerself with such slight gratifications, and looks forward to 
pleasure so remotely consequential, that her practices raise 
10 alarm, and her statagems are not easily discovered. 

Vanity is, indeed, often suffered to pass unpursued by 
mspicion, because he that would watch her motions, can 
wrer be at rest : fraud and malice are bounded in their 
nflueDce; some opportunity of lime and place is necessary to 

grail- -^ 


their agency ; but scarce any man is abstracted one moment 
from his vanity ; and he, to whom truth affords no 
fications, is generally inclined to seek them in falsehoods. 

It is remarked by Sir Kenelm Digby, "that 
"man has a desire to appear superior to others, though 
" it were only in having seen what they have 
" seen." Such an accidental advantage, since it neith^s 
implies merit, nor confers dignity, one would thii^M 
should not be desired so much as to be counterfeitet^^ 
yet even this vanity, trilling as it is, produces innumerat^^ 
narratives, all equally false ; but more or less credible 
proportion to the skill or confidence of the relater, Hczzj 
many may a man of diffusive conversation count among "^tI 
acquaintances, whose lives have been signalized by numWcE 
less escapes ; who never cross the river but in a storm, or 
take a journey into the country without more adventtams 
than befel the knights- errant of ancient times in pathless 
forests or enchanted castles I How many must he kaor, 
to whom portents and prodigies are of daily occurrence; 
and for whom nature is hourly working wonders invisible 
to every other eye, only to supply them with subjecls of 
conversation I 

Others there are that amuse themselves with the dis- 
semination of falsehood, at greater hazard of detection and 
disgrace ; men marked out by some lucky planet fo^" 
universal confidence and friendship, who have beet»- 
consulted in every difficulty, intrusted with every secret^!* 
and summoned to every transaction : it is the suptem^^ 
felicity of these men, to stun all companies with nois; 
information ; to still doubt, and overbear opposition, witl 
certain knowledge or authentick intelligence. A liar of thi 
kind, with a strong memory or brisk imagination, is ofl< 
the oracle of an obscure club, and, till time discovers 



impostures, dictates to his hearers with uncontrouled 
authority ; for if a publick question he started, he was 
present at the debate ; if a new fashion be mentioned, he 
was at court the fust day of its appearance ; if a new 
performance of htetature draws the attention of the puhHck, 
he has patronised the author, and seen his work in 
manuscript ; if a criminal of eminence be condemned to 
die, he often predicted his fate, and endeavoured his reforma- 
tion : and who that hves at a distance from the scene of 
action, will dare to contradict a man, who reports from his 
own eyes and ears, and to whom all persons and affairs are 
thus intimately known ? 

This kind of falsehood is generally successful for a time, 
because it is practised at first with timidity and caution : 
but the prosperity of the liar is of short duration ; the 
reception of one story is always an incitement to the forgery 
ot another less probable; and he goes on to triumph over 
tacit credulity, till pride or reason rises up against him, and 
his companions will no longer endure to see him wiser than 

It is apparent, that the inventors of all these Actions 
intend some exaltation of themselves, and are led off by the 
pursuit of honour from their attendance upon truth : their 
narratives always imply some consequence in favour of their 
coitrage, their sagacity, or their activity, their familiarity 
with the learned, or their reception among the great ; they 
are always bribed by the present pleasure of seeing them- 
selves superior to those that surround them, and receiving 
the homage of silent attention and envious admiration. 

But vanity is sometimes excited to fiction by less visible 
gratifications : the present age abounds with a race of liars 
who are content with the consciousness of falsehood, and 
whose pride is to deceive others without any gain 


or glory to themselves. Of this tribe it is the supreme 
pleasure to remark a lady in the playhouse or the park, 
and to publish, under the character of a man suddenly 
enamoured, an advertisement in the news of the next day, 
containing a minute description of her person and her dress. 
From this artifice, however, no other effect can be expected, 
than perturbations which the writer can never see, am 
conjectures of which he never can be informed : som 
mischief, however, he hopes he has done ; and to have done^ 
mischief, is of some importance. He sets his invention t^ 
work again, and produces a narrative of a robberj^ 
or a murder, with all the circumstances of time anc7 
place accurately adjusted This is a jest of greater effect 
and longer duration : if he fixes his scene at a fnroper 
distance, he may for several days keep a wife in terror for 
her husband, or a mother for her son ; and please himself 
with reflecting, that by his abilities and address some 
addition is made to the miseries of life. 

There is, I think, an ancient law of Scotland, by which 
leasing-making was capitally punished. I am, indeed, bst 
from desiring to increase in this kingdom the number of 
executions ; yet I cannot but think, that they who destroy 
the confidence of society, weaken the credit of intelligence^ 
and interrupt the security of life ; harrass the delicate with 
shame, and perplex the timorous with alarms \ might very 
properly be awakened to a sense of their crimes, by 
denunciations of a whipping-post or pillory : since many 
are so insensible of right and wrong, that they have no 
standard of action but the law ; nor feel guilt, but as they 
dread punishment* 

* Note XIX., Appendix. 


Saturday, May 25, 1758. 

** Damnant quod non inieliigutU" Cic. 

** They condemn what they do not understand." 

"P URIPIDES, having presented Socrates with the writings 
of Heraclitus, a philosopher famed for involution and 
obscurity, inquired afterwards his opinion of their merit. 
"What I understand," said Socrates, " I find to be 
"excellent; and, therefore, believe that to be of equal 
" value which I cannot understand." 

The reflection of every man who reads this passage will 
suggest to him the difference between the practice of 
Socrates, and that of modern criticks. Socrates, who had, 
by long observation upon himself and others, discovered the 
weakness of the strongest, and the dimness of the most 
enlightened intellect, was afraid to decide hastily in his own 
favour, or to conclude that an author had written without 
meaning, because he could not immediately catch his 
ideas ; he knew that the faults of books are often more 
justly imputable to the reader, who sometimes wants 
attention, and sometimes penetration; whose understand- 
ing is often obstructed by prejudice, and often dissipated 
by remissness; who comes sometimes to a new study, 
unfurnished with knowledge previously necessary; and 
finds difficulties insuperable, for want of ardour sufficient to 
encounter them. 

Obscurity and clearness are relative terms : to some 
readers scarce any book is easy, to others not many are 
difficult : and surely they, whom neither any exuberant 


praise bestowed by others, nor any eminent conquests oveor^-^ 
stubborn problems, have entitled to exalt themselves abov» ^^^^l 
the common orders of mankindi might condescend Xj^^m- 
imitate the candour of Socrates; and where they find iin*^ 
contestible proofs of superior genius, be content to thia^rx:.^ 
that there is justness in the connection which they caxasn^ ^^tmi^ 
trace, and cogency in the reasoning which they cann^^^-ra^^. 

This diffidence is never more reasonable than in tT — -^^ 

perusal of the authors of antiquity ; of those whose woi -^ 

have been the delight of ages, and transmitted as the gr^=»i/ 
inheritance of mankind from one generation to anothesr; 
siurely, no man can, without the utmost arrogance, imagine 
that he brings any superiority of understanding to tfie 
perusal of these books which have been preserved in the 
devastation of cities, and snatched up from the wreck of 
nations ; which those who fled before barbarians have been 
careful to carry off in the hurry of migration, and of which 
barbarians have repented the destruction. If in books thus 
made venerable by the uniform attestation of successive 
ages, any passages shall appear unworthy of that praise 
which they have formerly received, let us not immediately 
determine, that they owed their reputation to dulness (nt 
bigotry ; but suspect at least that our ancestors had some 
reasons for their opinions, and that our ignorance of those 
reasons make us differ from them. 

It often happens that an author's reputation is endangered 
in succeeding times, by that which raised the loudest - 
applause among his contemporaries : nothing is read with > 
greater pleasure than allusions to recent facts, reigning ^ 
opinions, or present controversies ; but when facts are^ 
forgotten, and controversies extinguished, these favourite^ 
touches lose all their graces ; and the author in his descent^ 


terity must be left to the mercy of chance, without any 
of ascertaining the memory of those things, to which 
id his luckiest thoughts and his kindest reception, 
such occasions every reader should remember the 
nee of Socrates, and repair by his candour the injuries 
le; he should impute the seeming defects of his 
to some chasm of intelligence, and suppose that 
nse which is now weak was once forcible, and the 
sion which is now dubious formerly determinate. 
7 much the mutilation of ancient history has taken 
from the beauty of poetical performances, may be 
tured from the light which a lucky commentator 
mes eflfuses, by the recovery of an incident that had 
ong forgotten : thus, in the third book of Horace, 
denunciations against those that should presume to 
gain the walls of Troy, could for many ages please 
^ splendid images and swelling language, of which no 
liscovered the use or propriety, till Le Fevre, by 
g on what occasion the Ode was written, changed 
• to rational delight Many passages yet undoubtedly 
in the same author, which an exacter knowledge of 
:idents of his time would clear from objections. 
; these I have always numbered the following lines : 

** Aurumper niedios ire satellites , 
Et perrumpere amat saxa, potentius 
Ictu fulmineo, Concidit Auguris 
Argivi domus ob lucrum 
Demersa excidio. Diffidit urbium 
Fortas vir Macedo, et subruit oemulos 
Reges muneribus, Munera navium 
Ssevos illaqueant duces." 

" Stronger than thunder's winged force, 
All-powerful gold can spread its course, ' 


Thro* watchful guards its passage make, 
And loves thro' solid walls to break : 
From gold the overwhelming woes. 
That crush'd the Grecian augur rose ; 
Philip with gold thro' cities broke. 
And rival monarchs felt his yoke ; 
Captains of ships to gold are slaves ^ 
Tho^ fierce as their own winds and waves *^ 

The close of this passage by which every reader is XiO^ 
disappointed and offended, was probably the delight oF *^^ 
Roman court : it cannot be imagined, that Horace, siA^ 
having given to gold the force of thunder, and told of i*^ 
power to storm cities and to conquer kings, would have 
concluded his account of its efficacy witii its influen<^^ 
over naval commanders, liad he not alluded to some fa^* 
then current in the mouths of men, and therefore moT^ 
interesting for a time than the conquests of Philip. Of tt»^ 
like kind may be reckoned another stanza in the san^^ 

** - — -Jussa coram non sine conscio 
Surgit marito, seu vocat institor 
Seu navis Hispanae magister 
Dedecorum prctiosus emptor, ** 

'* The conscious husband bids her rise. 
When some rich factor courts her chartns^ 
Who calls the wanton to his arms, 
And, prodigal of wealth and fame. 
Profusely buys the costly shame." Francis. 

He has little knowledge of Horace who imagines that tl 
factor, or the Spanish merchant, are mentioned by chanc 
there was undoubtedly some popular story of an in trig 
which those names recalled to the memory of his reader. 
The flame of his genius in other parts, though somei/i 


:ied by time, is not totally eclipsed; his address and 
xent yet appear, though much of the spirit and vigour 
s sentiment is lost : this has happened to the twentieth 
of the first book ; 

*' Vile potabis tnodicis Sabinum 

CanthariSy Grach quod ego ipse iestd 
Conditum levi ; datus in theatro 

CiUm tibi plausuSf 
Chare Macenas eques. Ut patemi 
Fluminis ripa, simul etjocosa 
Redderet iaudes tibi VcUicam 
Montis imago,* ^ 

" A poet's beverage humbly cheap, 

(Should great Maecenas be my guest) 
The vintage of the Sabine grape, 

But yet in sober cups shaJl crown the feast ! 
'Twas rack'd into a Grecian cask, 

Its rougher juice to melt away ; 
I seal*d it too — a pleasing task ! 

With annual joy to mark the glorious day, 
When in applausive shouts thy name 

Spread from the theatre around, 
Floating on thy own Tiber's stream, 

And Echo, playful nymph, retum'd the sound.** 


lere easily remark the intermixture of a happy compli- 
with an humble invitation; but certainly are less 
hted than those, to whom the mention of the applause 
)wed upon Maecenas, gave occasion to recount the 
ns or words that produced it 

m lines which have exercised the ingenuity of modern 
:ks, may, I think, be reconciled to the judgment, by an 
supposition : Horace thus addresses Agrippa ; 



•'* Scriberis Vatfio ortts, et hosHum 
Victory Mseonii carminis alite.** 

** Varius, a swan of Homer* s wing. 
Shall brave Agrippa's conquests sing. 


That Varius should be called " A bird of Homeric so 
appears so harsh to modern ears, that an emendation ol 
text has been proposed : but surely the learning of 
ancients had been long ago obliterated, had every 
thought himself at liberty to corrupt the lines which he 
not understand. If we imagine that Varius had been 
any of his contemporaries celebrated under the appella 
of Musarum Ales, the swan of the Muses, the languag< 
Horace becomes graceful and familiar; and that sue 
compliment was at least possible, we know from 
transformation feigned by Horace of himself. 

The most elegant compliment that was paid to Addi 
is of this obscure and perishable kind ; 

** When psinting Vittue her last efforts made, 
You brought your Clio to the Virgin's aid." 

These lines must please as long as they are understc 
but can be understood only by those that have obse 
Addison's signatures in the Spectator. 

The nicety of these minute allusions I shall exemplif 
another instance, which I take this occasion to men 
because, as I am told, the commentators have omitte 
TibuUus addresses Cynthia in this manner : 


Te spectentf suprema mihi chm venerii hora, 
Te teneam nioriens deficiente manu" 

** Before my closing eyes dear Cynthia stand, 
Held weakly by my fainting trembling hand." 


' these lines Ovid thus refers in his elegy on the death 
Tibullus : 

*^ Cynthia decedenSy feliciusy inquit^ amata 
Sum HH; vixisti dum tuus ignis eram, 
Cui Nemesis^ ^^1 ^> ^^' ^^^ ^f^^ damna dolori f 
Me tenuit moriens deficimie manu,** 

** Blest was my reign, retiring Cynthia cry'd : 
Nor till he left my breast, Tibullus dy'd. 
Forbear, said Nemesis, my loss to moan, 
The fainting trembling hand was mine alone." 

The beauty of this passage, which consists in the 
appropriation made by Nemesis of the line originally 
^^*fected to Cjmthia, had been wholly imperceptible to 
succeeding ages, had chance, which has destroyed so many 
S'^ater volumes, deprived us likewise of the poems of 

Tuesday, August 28, 1753. 

** Qui cupit optatam cursu anUingere metam^ 
MuUa tuliifecitquepuer:* HOR. 

" The youth, who hopes th' Olympick prize to gain, 
All arts must try, and every toil sustain/' FrancIs. 

T^ is observed by Bacon, that "reading makes a full 
" man, conversation a ready man, and writing an exact 

As Bacon attained to degrees of knowledge scarcely ever 
^ined by any other man, the directions which he gives 
^ study have certainly a just claim to our regard ; for who 


can teach an art with so great authority, as he that 
practised it with undisputed success ? 

Under the protection of so great a name, I shall, th^ere 
fore, venture to inculcate to my ingenious contemporaries, 
the necessity of reading, the fitness of consulting other 
understandings than their own, and of considering the 
sentiments and opinions of those who, however neglected in 
the present age, had in their own times, and many of theoa 
a long time afterwards, such reputation for knowledge and 
acuteness as will scarcely ever be attained by those that 
despise them. 

An opinion has of late been, I know not how, propagated 
amongst us, that libraries are filled only with useless 
lumber ; that men of parts stand in need of no assistance; : 
and that to spend life in poring upon books, is only to 
imbibe prejudices, to obstruct and embarrass the powers of j 
nature, to cultivate memory at the expense of judgment, | 
and to bury reason under a chaos of indigested learning. I 

Such is the talk of many who think themselves wise^ and i 
of some who are thought wise by others; of whom part 
probably believe their own tenets, and part may be justly | 
suspected of endeavouring to shelter their ignorance in ! 
multitudes, and of wishing to destroy that reputation which 
they have no hopes to share. It will, I believe, be found 
invariably true, that learning was never decried by any 
learned man ; and what credit can be given to those, who 
venture to condemn that which they do not know ? 

If reason has the power ascribed to it by its advocates, if 
so much is to be discovered by attention and meditation, it 
is hard to believe, that so many millions, equally partici- 
pating of the bounties of nature with ourselves, have been 
for ages upon ages meditating in vain : if the wits of the 
present time expect the regard of posterity, which will then 


^^erit the reason which is now thought superior to 

^siruction, surely they may allow themselves to be 

^^^structed by the reason of former generations. When, 

^^lefore, an author declares, that he has been able to 

Wm nothing from the writings of his predecessors, and 

^ch a declaration has been lately made, nothing but a 

degree of arrogance unpardonable in the greatest human 

^derstanding, can hinder him from perceiving that he is 

'iising prejudices against his performance ; for with what 

hopes of success can he attempt that in which greater 

abilities have hitherto miscarried? or with what peculiar 

fcite does he suppose himself invigorated, that difficulties 

toerto invincible should give way before him. 

Of those whom Providence has qualified to make any 
Editions to human knowledge, the number is extremely 
Small ; and what can be added by each single mind, even 
of this supierior class, is very little : the greatest part of 
tuankind must owe all their knowledge, and all must owe 
fer the larger part of it, to the information of others. To 
Understand the works of celebrated authors, to comprehend 
:heir systems, and retain their reasonings, is a task more 
iian equal to common intellects ; and he is by no means to 
DC accounted useless or idle, who has stored his mind with 
icquired knowledge, and can detail it occasionally to others 
¥ho have less leisure or weaker abilities. 

Perseus has justly observed, that knowledge is nothing to 
lim who is not known by others to possess it: to the 
K:bo1ar himself it is nothing with respect either to honour 
)r advantage, for the world cannot reward those qualities 
?hich are concealed from it; with respect to others it is 
lothing, because it affords no help to ignorance or error. 

It is with justice, therefore, that in an accomplished 
rharacter, Horace unites just sentiments with the power of 


expressing them ; and he that has once accumulated lear*^ 
ing, is next to consider, how he shall most widely diffi^^ 
and most agreeably impart it 

A ready man is made by conversation. He that buirie 
himself among his manuscripts "besprent," as Pope er 
presses it^ " with learned dust," and wears out his dajrs and 
nights in perpetual research and solitary meditation, is too 
apt to lose in his elocution what he adds to his wisdom; 
and when he comes into the world, to appear over- 
loaded with his own notions, like a man armed with weapons 
which he cannot wield. He has no facility of inculcating 
his speculations, of adapting himself to the various degrees 
of intellect which the accidents of conversation will 
present ; but will talk to most unintelligibly, and to all 

I was once present at the lectures of a profound philoso- 
pher, a man really skilled in the science which he professed, 
who having occasion to explain the terms opacum 2xAp€lbir 
cidum^ told us, after some hesitation, that opacum was, as 
one might say, opake^ and that pellucidum signified pelludi 
Such was the dexterity with which this learned reader 
facilitated to his auditors the intricacies of science ; and so 
true is it, that a man may know what he cannot teacK 

Boerhaave* complains, that the writers who have treated 
of chymistry before him, are useless to the greater part of 
students, because they presuppose their readers to have 
such degrees of skill as are not often to be found. Into the 
same error are all men apt to fall, who have familiarized any 
subject to themselves in solitude : they discourse as if they 
thought every other man had been employed iii the same 
enquiries ; and expect that short hints and obscure allusions 

* Note XX., Appendix. 


^ produce in others the same train of ideas which they 
ixcite in themselves. 

Nor is this the only inconvenience which the man of 
tudy suffers from a recluse life. When he meets with an 
opinion that pleases him, he catches it up with eagerness ; 
3oks only after such arguments as tend to his confirmation ; 
>r spares himself the trouble of discussion, and adopts it 
dth very little proof; indulges it long without suspicion, 
nd in time unites it to the general body of his knowledge, 
nd treasures it up among incontestible truths : but when 
le comes into the world among men who, arguing upon 
lissimilar principles, liave been led to different conclusions, 
nd being placed in various situations, view the same object 
in many sides ; he finds his darling position attacked, and 
limself in no condition to defend it : having thought always 
n one train, he is in the state of a man who having fenced 
rith the same master, is perplexed and amazed by a new 
x>sture of his antagonist; he is entangled in unexpected 
iifiiculties, he is harrassed by sudden objections, he is 
mprovided with solutions or replies ; his surprize impedes 
lis natural powers of reasoning, his thoughts are scattered 
md confounded, and he gratifies the pride of airy petulence 
«rith an easy victory. 

It is difficult to imagine, with what obstinacy truths which 
>ne mind perceives almost by intuition, will be rejected by 
mother ; and how many artifices must be practised, to pro- 
nire admission for the most evident propositions into under- 
itandings frighted by their novelty, or hardened against 
:hem by accidental prejudice ; it can scarcely be conceived, 
low frequently, in these extemporaneous controversies, the 
iull will be subtle, and the acute absurd ; how often 
stupidity will elude the force of argument, by involving 
itself in its own gloom ; and mistaken ingenuity will weave 


artful fallacies, which reason can scarcely find means 

In these encounters the learning of the recluse usus 
fails him : nothing but long habit and frequent experime 
can confer the power of changing a position into vari< 
forms, presenting it in different points of view, connecting 
with known and granted truths, fortifying it with intelligil 
arguments, and illustrating it by apt similitudes ; and i 
therefore, that has collected his knowledge in solitude, mu 
learn its application by mixing with mankind. 

But while the various opportunities of conversation invi 
us to try every mode of argument, and every art of recoi 
mending our sentiments, we are frequently betrayed to tl 
use of such as are not in themselves strictly defensible : 
man heated in talk, and eager of victory, takes advantage 
the mistakes or ignorance of his adversary, lays hold of cc 
cessions to which he knows he has no right, and urg 
proofs likely to prevail in his opponent, though he kno 
himself that they have no force : thus the severity of reas 
is relaxed, many topicks are accumulated, but without ji 
arrangement or distinction; we learn to satisfy ourseb 
with such ratiocination as silences others ; and seld( 
recall to a close examination, that discourse which 1 
gratified our vanity with victory and applause. 

Some caution, therefore, must be used lest copiousn 
and facility be made less valuable by inaccuracy and o 
fusion. To fix the thoughts by writing, and subject th 
to frequent examinations and reviews, is the best method 
enabling the mind to detect its own sophisms, and keep 
on guard against the fallacies which it practises on othe 
in conversation we naturally diffuse our thoughts, and 
writing we contract them ; method is the excellence 
writing, and unconstraint the grace of conversation. 


To read, write, and converse in due proportions, is there- 

fote, the business of a man of letters. For all these there is 

ttot often equal opportunity; excellence, therefore, is not 

often attainable ; and most men fail in one or other of the 

ends proposed, and are full without readiness, or ready 

without exactness. Some deficiency must be forgiven all, 

because all are men; and more must be allowed to pass 

^incensured in the greater part of the world, because none 

can confer upon himself abilities, and few have the choice 

of situations proper for the improvement of those which 

^ture has bestowed : it is however, reasonable, to have 

P^€cti(m in our eye ; that we may always advance towards 

^^i though we know it never can be reached. 

Tuesday, October 2, 1753. 


-Duicique animos novitate teneboj* Ovid. 


I . 

'' And with sweet novelty your soul detain." 

JT is often charged upon writers, that with all their pre- 

tensions to genius and discoveries, they do little more 

^^ copy one another; and that compositions intruded 

^P^n the world with the pomp of novelty, contain only 
^^ious repetitions of common sentiments, or at best 

^liibit a transposition of known images, and give a new 

Appearance to truth only by some slight difference of dress 

A^d decoration. 

The allegation of resemblance between authors, is indis- 
putably true ; but the image of plagiarism, which is raised 


upon it, is not to be allowed with equal readiness. A o(^f n. 
cidence of sentiment may easily happen without any coin- 
munication, since there are many occasions in which alL 
reasonable men will nearly think alike. Writers of all ages 
have had the same sentiments, because they have in all 
ages had the same objects of speculation ; the interests and ' 
passions, the virtues and vices of mankind, have been 
diversified in different times, only by unessential and casuiJ 
varieties; and we must, therefore, expect in the works of all 
those who attempt to describe them, such a likeness as tr^ 
find in the pictures of the same person drawn in diflferen* 
periods of his life. 

It is necessary, therefore, that before an authcnr b^ 
charged with plagiarism, one of the most reproachful* 
though, perhaps, not the most atrocious of literary crime^y 
the subject on which he treats should be carefully cor^'" 
sidered. We do not wonder, that historians, relating tii-^ 
same facts, agree in their narration; or that author^? 
delivering the elements of science, advance the sair».^ 
theorems, and lay down the same definitions ; yet it is not 
wholly without use to mankind, that books are multipliedf 
and different authors lay out their labours on the sand^ 
subject; for there will always be some reason why on^ 
should on particular occasions or to particular persons, b^ 
preferable to another ; some will be clear where others are 
obscure, some will please by their style and others by their 
method, some by their embellishments and others by their 
simplicity, some by closeness and others by diffusion. 

The same indulgence is to be shewn to the writers of 
morality: right and wrong are immutable: and those^ 
therefore, who teach us to distinguish them, if they all 
teach us right, must agree with one another. The relations 
of social life, and the duties resulting from them, must he 



the same at all times and in all nations : some petty 
<iifferences may be, indeed, produced, by forms of govern- 
iBent or arbitrary customs \ but the general doctrine can 
I'cceive no alteration. 

Yet it is not to be desired, that moraUty should be con- 

rfdered as interdicted to all future writers : men will always 

be tempted to deviate from their duty, and will, therefore, 

*lways want a monitor to recall them ; and a new book 

often seizes the attention of the publick, without any other 

ebim than that it is new. There is likewise in composition, 

^ in other things, a perpetual vicissitude of fashion ; and 

^th is reconmiended at one time to regard, by appearances 

^hich at another would expose it to neglect; the author, 

^crefore, who has judgment to discern the taste of his con- 

'^poraries, and skill to gratify it, will have always an 

opportunity to deserve well of mankind, by conveying 

"^truction to them in a grateful vehicle. 

there are likewise many modes of composition, by which 

* O:ioralist may deserve the name of an original writer : he 

''^y familiarize his system by dialogues after the manner of 

*^^ ancients, or subtilize it into a series of syllogistic 

^guments : he may enforce his doctrine by seriousness and 

^lemnity, or enliven it by sprightliness and gaiety ; he may 

^^liver his sentiments in naked precepts, or illustrate them 

^y historical examples; he may detain the studious by 

^e artful concatenation of a continued discourse, or 

J'elieve the busy by short strictures, and unconnected essays. 

To excel in any of these forms of writing will require 

a particular cultivation of the genius : whoever can attain 

to excellence, will be certain to engage a set of readers, 

whom no other method would have equally allured ; and he 

that conm:iunicates truth with success, must be numbered 

among the first benefactors to mankind. 


The same observation may be extended likewise to f 
passions : their influence is uniform, and their effects neai 
the same in every human breast : a man loves and^ 
desires and avoids, exactly like his neighbour; resentment 
and ambition, avarice and indolence, discover themselves 
by the same symptoms in minds distant a thousand years 
from one another. 

Nothing, therefore, can be more unjust, than to chaig^^ 
an author with plagiarism, merely because he assigns to 
every cause its natural effect ; and makes his personages ac<^ 
as others in like circumstances have always done. Ther^ 
are conceptions in which all men will agree, though eact* 
derives them from observation : whoever has been in lov^ 
will represent a lover impatient of every idea that interrupt^ 
his meditations on his mistress, retiring to shades ancS- 
solitude, that he may muse without disturbance on th^ 
approaching happiness, or associating himself .with som^ 
friend that flatters his passion, and talking away the hours o^ 
absence upon his darling subject. Whoever has been yO 
unhappy as to have felt the miseries of long-continueci 
hatred, will, without any assistance from ancient volumes* 
be able to relate how the passions are kept in perpetu^J 
agitation, by the recollection of injury and meditations o* 
revenge : how the blood boils at the name of the enemy> 
and life is worn away in contrivances of mischief. 

Every other passion is alike simple and limitedy if it 1:^^ 
considered only with regard to the breast which it inhabits 9 
the anatomy of the mind, as that of the body, must 
perpetually exhibit the same appearances ; and though l>y 
the continued industry of successive inquirers, new move- 
ments will be from time to time discovered, they can effect 
only the minuter parts, and are commonly of more curiosity 
than importance. 


It will now be natural to inquire, by what arts are the 
mters of the present and future ages to attract the notice 
md favour of mankind They are to observe the alterations 
B^bich time is always making in the modes of life, that they 
noay gratify every generation with a picture of themselves. 
Thus love is uniform, but courtship is perpetually varying : 
the different arts of gallantry, which beauty has inspired, 
would of themselves be sufficient to fill a volume ; some- 
times balls and serenades, sometimes tournaments and 
adventures, have been employed to melt the hearts of ladies, 
who in another century have been sensible of scarce any 
other merit than that of riches, and listened only to jointures 
^d pin-money. Thus the ambitious man has at all times 
been eager of wealth and power; but these hopes have 
been gratified in some countries by supplicating the people, 
tod in others by flattering the prince : honour in some 
states has been only the reward of military achievements, 
in others it has been gained by noisy turbulence and popular 
clamours. Avarice has worn a different form, as she 
actuated the usurer of Rome, and the stock-jobber of 
^^land ; and idleness itself, how little soever inclined to 
^e trouble of invention, has been forced from time to time 
^° change its amusements, and contrive different methods of 
^''^riiig out the day. 

ftere then is the fund, from which those who study 
'^'^kind may fill their compositions with an inexhaustible 
^^^ty of images and illusions ; and he must be confessed 
*Ook with little attention upon scenes thus perpetuaUy 
'^^ging, who cannot catch some of the figures before they 
^^ ^^ade vulgar by reiterated descriptions. 
^^'t has been discovered by Sir Isaac Newton, that the 
^^inct and primogenial colours are only seven \ but every 
^^ can witness, that from various mixtures, in various 


proportions, infinite diversifications of tints may be p^j 
duced. In like manner, the passions of the mind, wh.i.< 
put the world in motion, and produce all the bustle 
eagerness of the busy crowds that swarm upon the eartti. . 
the passions, from whence arise all the pleasures and pairx^ 
that we see and hear of, if we analyse the mind of man, ar^ 
very few ; but those few agitated and combined, as extern^ 
causes shall happen to operate, and modified by prevailir*^ 
opinions, and accidental caprices, make such frequed.* 
alterations on the surface of life, that the show, while ^^ 
are busied in delineating it, vanishes from the view, and ^ 
new set of objects succeed, doomed to the same shortne^^ 
of duration with the former : thus curiosity may always fin.^ 
employment, and the busy part of mankind will furnish tb.^ 
contemplative with the materials of speculation to the en.<3 
of time. 

The complaint, therefore, that all topicks are pre- 
occupied, is nothing more than the murmur of ignorance or 
idleness, by which some discourage others and some thecn- 
selves ; the mutability of mankind will always furnish writers 
with new images, and the luxuriance of fancy may always 
embellish them with new decorations. 



Saturday y October 2"] ^ 1753. 

•Quid tarn dextro pede concipisy ut te 

Conatus non paniteat votique peracti f " Juv. 

** What in the conduct of our life appears 
So well design'd, so luckily begun, 
But, when we have our wish, we wish undone.'' 



.VE been for many years a trader in London. My 
jginning was narrow, and my stock small; I was, 
•re, a long time brow-beaten and despised by those, 
iving more money thought they had more merit than 
I did not, however, suffer my resentment to insti- 
e to any mean arts of supplantation, nor my eagerness 
as to betray me to any indirect methods of gain ; I 
d my business with incessant assiduity, supported by 
pe of being one day richer than those who contemned 
ad had, upon every annual review of my books, the 
:tion of finding my fortune increased beyond my 

few years my industry and probity were fully recom- 
I, my wealth was really great, and my reputation for 

still greater. I had large warehouses crowded with 
and considerable sums in the publick funds ; I was 
id upon the Exchange by the most eminent 
ants j became the oracle of the common council j 


was solicited to engage in all commercial undertakirw 
was flattered with the hopes of becoming in a short ti 
one of the directors of a wealthy company, and, to c< 
plete my mercantile honours, enjoyed the expens 
happiness of fining for sheriff. 

Riches you know, easily produce riches: when I hi 
arrived to this degree of wealth, I had no longer at 
obstruction or opposition to fear; new acquisitions we: 
hourly brought within my reach, and I continued for son: 
years longer to heap thousands upon thousands. 

At last I resolved to complete the circle of a citizen 
prosperity by the purchase of an estate in the country, an 
to close my life in retirement. From the hoiu: that th 
design entered my imagination, I found the fatigues of n 
employment every day more oppressive, and persuaded m 
self that I was no longer equal to perpetual attention, ar 
that my health would soon be destroyed by the torment ar 
distraction of extensive business. I could image to mys< 
no happiness, but in vacant jollity and uninterrupted leisur 
nor entertain my friends with any other topick, than t1 
vexation and uncertainty of trade, and the happiness 
rural privacy. 

But notwithstanding these declarations, I could not ; 
once reconcile myself to the thoughts of ceasing to g' 
money; and though I was every day inquiring for 
purchase, I found some reason for rejecting all that wer 
offered me; and, indeed, had accumulated so many beautie 
and conveniences in my idea of the spot where I was finall 
to be happy, that, perhaps, the world might have beei 
travelled over, without discovery of a place which would no 
have been defective in some particular. 

Thus I went on still talking of retirement, and still refus 
ing to retire ; my friends began to laugh at my delays, an( 


£rew ashamed to trifle longer with my own inclinations ; 

estate was at length purchased, I transferred my stock to 

prudent young man who had married my daughter, went 

own into the countryi and commenced lord of a spacious 


Here for some time I found happiness equal to my 
£aq)ectation. I reformed the old house according to the 
Uivice of the best architects, I threw down the walls of the 
garden, and enclosed it with palisades, planted long avenues 
of trees, filled a greenhouse with exotick plants, dug a new 
^^ana], and threw the earth into the old moat 

The &me of these expensive improvements brought in all 
the country to see the show. I entertained my visitors with 
gwat liberality, led them round my gardens, showed them 
toy apartments, laid before them plans for new decorations, 
•nd was gratified by the wonder of some and the envy of 

I was envied ; but how little can one man judge of the 
condition of another ! The time was now coming in which 
^uence and splendour could no longer make me pleased 
with myself. I had built till the imagination of the architect 
^ exhausted ; I had added one convenience to another, 
ffl I knew not what more to wish or to design ; I had laid 
out my gardens, planted my park, and completed my water- 
works ; and what remained now to be done ? what, but to 
^k up to turrets, of which when they were once raised I 
^ no fiuther use, to range over apartments where time 
was tarnishing the fumitiure, to stand by the cascade of 
which I scarcely now perceived the sound, and to watch the 
^•lowth of woods that must give their shade to a distant 

In this gloomy inactivity, is every day begun and ended : 
4e happiness that I have been so long procuring is now at 



an end, because it has been procured ; I wander from 
to room till I am weary of myself; I ride out to ^ 
neighbouring hill in the centre of my estate, from when«i^« 
all my lands lie in prospect round me \ I see nothing that ^ 
have not seen before, and return home disappointed, thou!^^ 
I knew that I had nothing to expect 

In my happy days of business I had been accustomed f^^ 
rise early in the morning \ and remember the time wheq ^ 
grieved that the night came so soon upon me, and oblige ^ 
me for a few hours to shut out affluence and prosperity. ^ 
now seldom see the rising sun, but to " tell him,*' with tlE.*^ 
fallen angel, " how I hate his beams." I awake from slee^ 
as to languor or imprisonment, and have no employment io^ 
the first hour but to consider by what art I shall rid mysel' 
of the second. I protract the breakfast as long as I car^s 
because when it is ended I have no call for my attention^ 
till I can with some degree of decency grow impatient iot 
my dinner. If I could dine all my life, I should be happ/' j 
I eat not because I am hungry, but because I am idle : bat, 
alas ! the time quickly comes when I can eat no longer; 
and so ill does my constitution second my inclination, that 
I cannot bear strong liquors : seven hours must then be 
endured before I shall sup ; but supper comes at last, the 
more welcome as it is in a short time succeeded by sleep. 

Such, Mr. Adventurer, is the happiness, the hope of 
which seduced me from the duties and pleasures of a 
mercantile life.* I shall be told by those who read my 
narrative, that there are many means of innocent amuse- 
ment, and many schemes of useful emplo)anent, which I do 
not appear ever to have known \ and that nature and ait 
have provided pleasures, by which, without the drudgery of 

* Note XXI., Appendix. 


ttled business, the active may be engaged, the solitary 
►othed, and the social entertained. 

These arts, Sir, I have tried. When first I took 
:>ssession of my estate, in conformity to the taste of my 
sighbours, I bought guns and nets, filled my kennel with 
ogs and my stable with horses: but a little experience 
^owed me, that these instruments of rural felicity would 
2brd me few gratifications. I never shot but to miss the 
iark, and to confess the truth, was afraid of the fire of my 
wn gun. I could discover no musick in the cry of the 
Ogs, nor could divest myself of pity for the animal whose 
•Woeful and inoffensive life was sacrificed to our sport. I 
^9s not, indeed, always at leisure to reflect upon her 
finger ; for my horse, who had been bred to the chase, did 
ot always regard my choice either of speed or way, but 
-aped hedges and ditches at his own discretion, and hurried 
^e along with the dogs, to the great diversion of my brother 
^ortsmen. His eagerness of pursuit once incited him to 
^im a river ; and I had leisure to resolve in the water, that 
'^ould never hazard my life again for the destruction of a 

1 then ordered books to be procured, and by the direction 
• the vicar had in a few weeks a closet elegantly furnished. 
On will perhaps, be surprised when I shall tell you, that 
txen once I had ranged them according to their sizes, and 
led them up in regular gradations, I had received all the 
^asure which they could give me. I am not able to 
^cite in myself any curiosity after events which have been 
^rjg passed, and in which I can therefore have no interest ; 
am utterly unconcerned to know whether Tully or 
^^mosthenes excelled in oratory, whether Hannibal lost 
^y by his own negligence or the corruption of his 
^untrymen. I have no skill in controversial learning, nor 


can conceive why so many volumes should have bes.^ 
written upon questions, which I have lived so long and s 
happily without understanding. I once resolved to g 
through the volumes relating to the office of justice of tt:^ 
peace, but found them so crabbed and intricate, that in le^ 
than a month I desisted in despair, and resolved to supply ra^- 
deficiencies by paying a competent salary to a skilful clerks-- 

I am naturally inclined to hospitality, and for some tiin- 
kept up a constant intercourse of visits with the neighbour 
ing gentlemen : but thought they are easily brought abo 
me by better wine than they can find at any other hous 
I am not much relieved by their conversation ; they hav-^ 
no skill in commerce or the stocks, and I have n*^ 
knowledge of the history of families or the factions of tlfc-^ 
country; so that when the first civilities are over, th^"^ 
usually talk to one another, and I am left alone in thm< 
midst of the company. Though I cannot drink myself, T 
am obliged to encourage the circulation of the glass ; their 
mirth grows more turbulent and obstreperous ; and before 
their merriment is at an end, I am sick with disgust, an<i 
perhaps, reproached with my sobriety, or by some sly 
insinuations insulted as a cit. 

Such, Mr. Adventurer, is the life to which I am con- 
demned by a foolish endeavour to be happy by imitation; 
such is the happiness to which I pleased myself with 
approaching, and which I considered as the chief end of my 
cares and my labours. I toiled year after year with cheer- 
fulness, in expectation of the happy hour in which I might 
be idle : the privilege of idleness is attained, but has not 
brought with it the blessing of tranquillity. 

I am, 

Yours, &c, 



Tuesday, November 27, 1753. 


Qua nonfecimus ipsi 

Vix ea nostra two,** Ovid. 

'* The deeds of long descended ancestors 
Are but by grace of imputation ours." Dryden. 

'T'HE evils inseparably annexed to the present condition 

^ of man, are so numerous and afflictive, that it has 

been, from age to age, the task of some to bewail, and of 

others to solace them ; and he, therefore, will be in danger 

of seeing a common enemy, who shall attempt to depreciate 

the few pleasures and felicities which nature has allowed us. 

Yet I will confess, that I have sometimes employed my 

thoughts in examining the pretensions that are made to 

happiness, by the splendid and envied condition of life; 

and have not thought the hour unprofitably spent, when I 

have detected the imposture of counterfeit advantages, and 

found disquiet lurking under false appearances of gayety and 


It is asserted by a tragick poet, that "est miser nemo 
" nisi comparatus," " no man is miserable, but as he is com- 
" pared with others happier than himself : " this position is 
not strictly and philosophically true. He might have said, 
with rigorous propriety, that no man is happy but as he is 
compared with the miserable ; for such is the state of this 
world, that we find it absolute misery, but happiness only 
comparative ; we may incur as much pain as we can possibly 
endure, though we never can obtain as much happiness as 
we might possibly enjoy. 


Yet it is certain likewise, that many of our miseries 
merely comparative : we are often made mihappy, not t^J 
the presence of any real evil, but by the absence of soir^ * 
fictitious good \ of something which is not required by ajm-^. 
real want of nature, which has not in itself any power ^^^a 
gratification, and which neither reason nor fancy woul^^^^ 
have prompted us to wish, did we not see it in the possessioi^''^ 
of others. 

For a mind diseased with vain longings after unattainabl ^^^ 
advantages, no medicine can be prescribed, but an impartial^^ 
inquiry into the real worth of that which is so ardentl] 
desired. It is well known, how much the mind, as well as* 
the eye, is deceived by distance \ and, perhaps, it will 
found, that of many imagined blessings it may be doubtedy. 
whether he that wants or possesses them has more reason 
be satisfied with his lot. 

The dignity of high birth and long extraction, no man 
whom nature has denied it, can confer upon himself; and-j 
therefore, it deserves to be considered, whether the want 
that which can never be gained, may not easily be endured. 
It is true, that if we consider the triumph and delight with 
which most of those recount their ancestors, who have 
ancestors to recount, and the artifices by which some who 
have risen to unexpected fortune endeavour to insert them- 
selves into an honourable stem, we shall be- inclined to 
fancy that wisdom or virtue may be had by inheritance, or 
that all the excellencies of a line of progenitors are accumu- 
lated on their descendants. Reason, indeed, will soon . 
inform us, that our estimation of birth is arbitrary and 
capricious, and that dead ancestors can have no influence 
but upon imagination : let it then be examined, whether 
one dream may not operate in the place of another: 
whether he that owes nothing to forefathers, may not 


^^ceive equal pleasure from the consciousness of owing all 
'^ himself; whether he may not, with a little meditation, 
^^d it more honourable to found than to continue a family, 
^nd to gain dignity than transmit it ; whether, if he receives 
"^o dignity from the virtues of his family, he does not like- 
^''^ escape the danger of being disgraced by their crimes ; 
^J^d whether he that brings a new name into the world, has 
^ot the convenience of playing the game of life without a 
^take, and opportunity of winning much though he has 
Nothing to lose. 

There is another opinion concerning happiness, which 
^roaches much more nearly to universality, but which 
may, perhaps, with equal reason be disputed. The preten- 
sions to ancestral honours many of the sons of earth easily 
see to be ill-grounded ; but all agree to celebrate the 
advantage of hereditary riches, and to consider those as 
the minions of fortune, who are wealthy from their cradles, 
whose estate is " res non parta labore sed relicta : " " the 
** acquisition of another, not of themselves \ " and whom a 
Other's industry has dispensed from a laborious attention to 
arts or commerce, and left at liberty to di pose of life as 
&nc7 shall direct them. 

If every man were wise and virtuous, capable to discern 
the best use of time, and resolute to practise it ; it might be 
granted, I think, without hesitation, that total liberty would 
be a blessing ; and that it would be desirable to be left at 
large to the exercise of religious and social duties, without 
the interruption of importunate avocations. 

But since felicity is relative, and that which is the means 
of happiness to one man may be to another the cause of 
misery, we are to consider, what state is best adapted to 
human nature in its present degeneracy and frailty. And, 
surely, to &r the greater number it is highly expedient, that 


they should by some settled scheme of duties be res< 
from the tyranny of caprice, that they should be driver 
by necessity through the paths of life with their atter 
confined to a stated task, that they may be less at lei 
to deviate into mischief at the call of folly. 

When we observe the lives of those whom an ar 
inheritance has let loose to their own direction, what d( 
discover that can excite our envy ? Their time seems 
to pass with much applause from others, or satisfactioi 
themselves : many squander their exuberance of fortun 
luxury and debauchery, and have no other use of m< 
than to inflame their passions, and riot in a wide rang 
licentiousness \ others less criminal indeed, but surely, 
much to be praised, lie down to sleep, and rise up to t 
are employed every morning in finding expedients tc 
themselves of the day, chace pleasure through all the pi 
of publick resort, fly from London to Bath, and from ] 
to London, without any other reason for changing place, 
that they go in quest of company as idle and as vagrar 
themselves, always endeavouring to raise some new d 
that they may have something to pursue, to rekindle s 
hope which they know will be disappointed, changing 
amusement for another which a few months will n 
equally insipid, or sinking into langour and disease 
want of something to actuate their bodies or exhib 
their minds. 

Whoever has frequented those places, where ic 
assemble to escape from solitude, knows that this is gene 
the state of the wealthy ; and from this state it is no g 
hardship to be debarred. No man can be happy in i 
idleness : he that should be condemned to lie torpid 
motionless, " would fly for recreation," says South, " to 
" mines and the galleys ; " and it is well, when natur< 


OTtune find employment for those, who would not have 
tuown how to procure it for themselves. 

He whose mind is engaged by the acquisition or improve- 
ment of a fortune, not only escapes the insipidity of 
indifference, and the tediousness of inactivity, but gains 
enjoyments wholly unknown to those, who live lazily on the 
toil of others ; for life affords no higher pleasure than that 
^ surmounting difficulties, passing from one step of 
Bucoess to another, forming new wishes, and seeing them 
Bntified. He that labours in any great or laudable under- 
taking has his fatigues first supported by hope, and 
^erwards rewarded by joy ; he is always moving to a . 
certain end, and when he has attained it, an end more 
distant invites him to a new pursuit. 

It does not, indeed, always happen, that diligence is 
fortunate ; the wisest schemes are broken by unexpected 
^dents ; the most constant perseverance sometimes toils 
^ngh life without a recompense; but labour, though 
Unsuccessful, is more eligible than idleness; he that 
Prosecutes a lawful purpose by lawful means, acts. always 
^th the approbation of his own reason ; he is animated 
through the course of his endeavours by an expectation 
^ch, though not certain, he knows to be just : and is at 
'^ comforted in his disappointment, by the consciousness 
^ he has not failed by his own fault 

That kind of life is most happy which affords us most 
^opportunities of gaining our own esteem ; and what can any 
'"^an infer in his own favour from a condition to which, 
however prosperous, he contributed nothing, and which the 
^flest and weakest of the species would have obtained by 
^ same right, had he happened to be the son of the same 

To strive with difficulties, and to conquer them, is the 


highest human felicity \ the next is to strive, and deserve t ^ 
conquer ; but he whose life has passed without a conte** 
and who can boast neither success nor merit, can surv^J 
himself only as a useless filler of existence ; and if he is 
content with his own character, must owe his satis&ction ^o 

Thus it appears that the satirist advised rightly, when he 
directed us to resign ourselves to the hands of Heaven, and 
to leave to superior powers the determination of our lot : 

** Permiites ipsis expendere NuminibuSy quid 
ConvenicU nobis, rebusque sit u'ile nostris : 
Carior est illis homo quam sibi, ' 

** Intrust thy fortune to the pow'rs above : 
Leave them to manage for thee, and to grant 
What their unerring wisdom sees thee want. 
In goodness as in greatness they excel : 
Ah 1 that we lov'd ourselves but half so well." DrydeK. 

What state of life admits most happiness, is uncertain i 
but that uncertainty ought to repress the petulance rf 
comparison, and silence the murmurs of discontent 

Tuesday y December ii, 1753. 

'* Scribmus indocti doctique,** HOR. 

" All dare to write, who can or cannot read." 

nPHEY who have attentively considered the history of 
^ mankind, know that every age has its peculiar 
character. At one time, no desire is felt but for military 
honours ; every summer affords battles and sieges, and the 
world is filled with ravage, bloodshed, and devastation : this 


^ nguinaiy fiiry at length subsides, and nations are divided 
to £su:tions, by controversies about points that will never be 
^ded. Men then grow weary of debate and altercation, 
id apply themselves to the arts of profit \ trading com- 
anies are formed, manufactures improved, and navigation 
Ktended ; and nothing is any longer thought on, but the 
icrease and preservation of property, the artificers of getting 
ioney, and the pleasures of spending it. 

The present age, if we consider chiefly the state of our 
^wi country, may be styled with great propriety The age of 
tuihors; for, perhaps, there never was a time in which 
Qen of all d^rees of ability, of every kind of education, of 
^very profession and employment, were posting with ardour 
o general to the press. The province of writing was 
ormerly left to those, who by study, or the appearance of 
tudy, were supposed to have gained knowledge unattain- 
able by the busy part of mankind ; but in these enlightened 
biys, every man is qualified to instruct every other man : 
^ he that beats the anvil, or guides the plough, not con- 
^Qt with supplying corporal necessities, amuses himself in 
be hours of leisiure with providing intellectual pleasures for 
& countrymen. 

It may be observed, that of this, as of other evils, 
^plaints have been made by every generation : but 
^ugh it may, perhaps, be true, that at all times more have 
^een willing than have been able to write, yet there is no 
^«ason for believing, that the dogmatical legions of the 
[Resent race were ever equalled in number by any former 
period ; for so widely is spread the itch of literary praise, 
^ almost every man is an author, either in act or in 
purpose ; has either bestowed his favours on the publick, or 
withholds them, that they may be more seasonably oflered, 
or Qoade more worthy of acceptance. 


In former times, the pen, like the sword, was considered 
as consigned by nature to the hands of men ! the ladi^ 
contented themselves with private virtues and domesticl 
excellence ; and a female writer, like a female warriour, ira: 
considered as a kind of eccentric being, that deviated, hovs 
ever illustriously, from her due sphere of motion, and was 
therefore, rather to be gazed at with wonder, than counteu 
anced by imitation. But as the times past are said tn 
have been a nation of Amazons, who drew the bow an< 
wielded the battle-axe, formed encampments and wastec 
nations ; the revolution of years has now produced a genera- 
tion of- Amazons of the pen, who with the spirit of their 
predecessors have set masculine t)rranny at defiance, asserted 
their claim to the regions of science, and seemed resolved 
to contest the usurpations of virility. 

Some, indeed, there are of both sexes, who are authors 
only in desire, but have not yet attained the power of 
executing their intentions; whose performances have not 
arrived at bulk sufficient to form a volume, or who have not 
the confidence, however impatient, of nameless obscurity, to 
solicit openly the assistance of the printer. Among these 
are the innumerable correspondents of publick papers, who 
are always offering assistance which no man will receive, 
and suggesting hints that are.never taken, and who complain 
loudly of the perverseness and arrogance of authors, lament 
their insensibility of their own interest, and fill the coffee- 
houses with dark stories of performances by eminent hands, 
which have been offered and rejected. 

To what cause this universal eagerness of writing can be 
properly ascribed, I have not yet been able to discover. It 
is said, that every art is propagated in proportion to the 
rewards conferred upon it ; a position from which a stranger 
would naturally infer, that literature was now blessed witb 


Patronage fer transcending the candour or munificence of 

the Augustine age, that the road to greatness was open to 

'^ooe but authors, and that by writing alone riches and 

honour were to be obtained. 
But since it is true, that writers like other competitors, 

We very little disposed to favour one another, it is not to be 
expected, that at a time when every man writes, any man 
^ patronize ; and accordingly, there is not one that I can 
^collect at present who professes the least regard for the 
votaries of science, invites the addresses of learned men, or 
Seems to hope for reputation from any pen but his own. 

The cause, therefore, of this epidemical conspiracy for 
he destruction of paper, must remain a secret : nor can I 
liscover, whether we owe it to the influences of the con- 
tellations, or the intemperature of seasons : whether the 
)ng continuance of the wind at any single point, or 
itoxicating vapoiurs exhaled from the earth, have turned 
or nobles and our peasants, our soldiers and traders, our 
len -and women, all into wits, philosophers, and writers. 

It is, indeed, of more importance to search out the cure 
lan the cause of this intellectual malady ; and he would 
eserve well of his country, who, instead of amusing himself 
ith conjectural speculations, should find means of persuad- 
ig the peer to inspect his steward's accounts, or repair the 
iral mansion of his ancestors, who could replace the 
adesman behind his counter, and send back the farmer to 
le mattock and the flail. 

General irr^ularities are known in time to remedy them- 
jlves. By the constitution of ancient Egypt, the priest- 
ood was continually increasing, till at length there was no 
eople beside themselves : the establishment was then 
issolved, and the number of priests was reduced and 
mited. Thus amongst us, writers will, perhaps, be 


multiplied, till no readers will be found, and then tlx^ 
ambition of writing must necessarily cease. 

But as it will be long before the cure is thus gradually 
effected, and the evil should be stopped, if it be possibl^^ 
before it rises to so great a height, I could wish that botl^ 
sexes would fix their thoughts upon some salutary consider^--" 
tions, which might repress their ardour for that reputatio^^ 
which not one of many thousands is fated to obtain. 

Let it be deeply impressed, and frequently recollectecJ* 
that he who has not obtained the proper qualifications of a,t* 
author, can have no excuse for the arrogance of writing, but 
the power of imparting to mankind something necessary to 
be known. A man uneducated or unlettered may some- 
times start a useful thought, or make a lucky discovery, or 
obtain by chance some secret of nature, or some intelligence 
of facts, of which the most enlightened mind may be 
ignorant, and which it is better to reveal, though by a rude 
and unskilful communication, than to lose for ever by 
suppressing it. 

But few will be justified by this plea ; for of the innumer- 
able books and pamphlets that have overflowed the natioD} 
scarce one has made any addition to real knowledge, or 
contained more than a transposition of common sentiments 
and a repetition of common phrases. 

It will be naturally inquired, when the man who feels an 
inclination to write, may venture to suppose himself properly 
qualified ; and, since every man who is inclined to think 
well of his own intellect, by what test he may try his 
abilities, without hazarding the contempt or resentment of 
the publick. 

The first qualification of a writer, is a perfect knowledge 
of the subject which he undertakes to treat ; since we cannot 
teach what we do not know, nor can properly undertake to 


instruct others while we are ourselves in want of instruction. 
The next requisite is, that he be master of the language in 
which he delivers his sentiments ; if he treats of science and 
demonstration, that he has attained a style clear, pure, 
'nervous, and expressive; if his topicks be probable and 
POsuasory, that he be able to recommend them by the 
saperaddition of elegance and imagery, to display the 
coburs of varied diction, and pour forth the music of 
DK)dulated periods. 

If it be again inquired, upon what principles any man shall 
conclude that he wants these powers, it may be readily 
•nswered, that no end is attained but by the proper means : 
he only can rationally presume that he understands a 
^object, who has read and compared the writers that have 
hitherto discussed it, familiarized their aguments to himself 
PF long meditation, consulted the foundations of different 
^sterns, and separated truth from errour by a rigorous 

In like manner, he only has a right to suppose that he 

^^ express his thoughts, whatever they are, with perspicuity 

^^ elegance, who has carefully perused the best authors, 

*^curately noted their diversities of style, diligently selected 

^^ best modes of diction, and familiarized them by long 

•^^bits of attentive practice. 

No man is a rhetorician or philosopher by chance. He 
^Ho knows that he undertakes to write on questions which 
*^^ has never studied, may without hesitation determine, that 
*^^ is about to waste his own time and that of his reader, 
^*^d expose himself to the derision of those whom he aspires 
^O instruct : he that without forming his style by the study 
^^ the best models, hastens to obtrude his compositions on 
^Vie publick, may be certain, that whatever hope or flattery 
^^y suggest, he shall shock the learned ear with barbarisms, 


and contribute wherever his works shall be received, to tl 
depravation of taste and the corruption of language. 

Saturday, December 29, 1753. 


Ultima semper 

Expectanda dies hominiy dicique beatus 

Ante ohitum nemo supremaque funera debet, '^ Ovn>._ 

^* But no frail man, however great or high, 
Can be concluded blest before he die." Addison. 

npHE numerous miseries of human life have extorte 
^ in all ages an universal complaint The wisest < 
men terminated all his experiments in search of happines 
by the mournful confession, that "all is vanity;" an 
the ancient patriarchs lamented, that " the days of thei 
pilgrimage were "few and evil" 

There is, indeed, no topick on which it is more super 
fiuous to accumulate authorities, nor any assertion of whicfa 
our own eyes will more easily discover, or our sensations 
more frequently impress the truth, than, that misery is the 
lot of man, that our present state is a state of danger and 

When we take the most distant prospect of life, what 
does it present us but a chaos of unhappiness, a confused 
and tumultuous scene of labour and contest, disappointment 
and defeat? If we view past ages in the reflection of 
history, what do they offer to our meditation but crimes 
and calamities ? One year is distinguished by a famine, 
another by an earthquake \ kingdoms are made desolate, 


sometimes by wars, and sometimes by pestilence; the 
peace of the world is interrupted at one time by the 
caprices of a tyrant, at another by the rage of a conqueror. 
The memory is stored only with vicissitudes of evil ; and 
Ae happiness, such as it is, of one part of mankind, is 
found to arise commonly from sanguinary success, from 
wctories which confer upon them the power, not so much 
of improving life by any new enjoyment, as of inflict- 
JDg misery on others, and gratifying their own pride by 
comparative greatness. 

But by him that examines life with a more close attention, 

the happiness of the world will be found still less than it 

appears. In some intervals of publick prosperity, or to use 

terms more proper, in some intermissions of calamity, a 

SCQeral diffusion of happiness may seem to overspread a 

people; all is triumph and exultation, jollity and plenty; 

^ere are no publick fears and dangers, and "no com- 

pUinings in-the streets." But the condition of individuals 

^ very little mended by this general calm : pain and 

"^ce and discontent still continue their havock ; the 

*fcnt depredation goes incessantly forward : and the grave 

^ntinues to be filled by the victims of sorrow. 

^ fte that enters a gay assembly, beholds the cheerfulness 

"'flayed in every countenance, and finds all sitting vacant 

^^ disengaged, with no other attention than to give or to 

'^^^We pleasure, would naturally imagine, that he had 

J ^Hed at last the metropolis of felicity, the place sacred to 

?^^»iess of heart, fi-om whence all fear and anxiety were 

l/^'^ereibly excluded. Such, indeed, we may often find to 

^he opinion of those, who from a lower station look up 

. ^Ije pomp and gayety which they cannot reach : but who 

. ^liere of those who frequent luxurious assemblies, that 

^^^ not confess his own uneasiness, or cannot recount the 




vexations and distresses that prey upon the lives of 1 
gay companions. 

The world, in its best state, is nothing more than a large 
assembly of beings, combining to counterfeit happines 
which they do not feel, employing every art and contrivanc 
to embellish life, and to hide their real condition from tli 
eyes of one another. 

The species of happiness most obvious to the observatio 
of others, is that which depends upon the goods of fortune 
yet even this is often fictitious. There is in the world mot 
poverty than is generally imagined ; not only because man 
whose possessions are large have desires still larger, an 
many measure their wants by the gratifications which othe: 
enjoy : but great numbers are pressed by real necessiti- 
which it is their chief ambition to conceal, and are forced 
purchase the appearance of competence and cheerfulness 
the expence of many comforts and conveniencies of life. 

Many, however, are confessedly rich, and many more a 
sufficiently removed from all danger of real poverty : but 
has been long ago remarked, that money cannot purchs 
quiet ; the highest of mankind can promise themselves i 
exemption from that discord or suspicion, by which t 
sweetness of domestick retirement is destroyed ; and mu 
always be even more exposed, in the same degree i 
they are elevated above others, to the treachery ( 
dependents, the calumny of defamers, and the violence ( 

Affliction is inseparable from our present state ; it adhere 
to all the inhabitants of this world, in different proportioi 
indeed, but with an allotment which seems very litt 
regulated by our own conduct. It has been the boast 
some swelling moralists, that every man's fortune was in h 
own power, that prudence supplied the place of all oth 


<Kvimties, and that happiness is the unfailing consequence 
of virtue. But, surely, the quiver of Omnipotence is stored 
^th arrows, against which the shield of human virtue, 
however adamantine it has been boasted, is held up in vain : 
^e do not always suffer by our crimes ; we are not always 
protected by our innocence. 

A good man is by no means exempt from the danger of 
suflfering by the crimes of others ; even his goodness may 
'^ise him enemies of implacable malice and restless per- 
severance: the good man has never been warranted by 
Heaven from the treachery of friends, the disobedience of 
Aildren, or the dishonesty of a wife ; he may see his cares 
tt^de useless by profusion, his instructions defeated by 
Perverseness, and his kindness rejected by ingratitude ; he 
i^Eiay languish under the infamy of false accusations, or 
perish reproachfully by an unjust sentence. 

A good man is subject, like other mortals, to all the 

^uences of natural evil ; his harvest is not spared by the 

^pest, nor his cattle by the murrain; his house flames 

"»e others in a conflagration ; nor have his ships any 

P^uliar power of resisting hurricanes : his mind, however 

^^^ted, inhabits a body subject to innumerable casualties, 

^ Which he must always share the dangers and the pains \ 

^ l>cars about him the seeds of disease, and may linger 

^'^y a great part of his life under the tortures of the gout or 

^€; at one time groaning with insufferable anguish, at 

^ther dissolved in listlessness and languor. 

."^Xom this general and indiscriminate distribution of 

^'^^ry, the moralists have always derived one of their 

^tigest moral arguments for a future state ; for since the 

^^^^^mon events of the present life happen alike to the good 

^'^^ bad, it follows from the justice of the Supreme Being, 

^^ there must be another state of existence^ in which a just 


retribution shall be made, and every man shall be happy 
and miserable according to his works. 

The .miseries of life may, perhaps, afford some proof 
of a future state, compared as well with the mercy as the 
justice of God. It is scarcely to be imagined that infinite 
benevolence would create a being capable of enjojdng so 
much more than is here to be enjoyed, and qualified by 
nature to prolong pain by remembrance, and anticipate it by 
terrour, if he was not designed for something nobler and 
better than a state, in which many of his faculties can serve 
only for his torment \ in which he is to be importuned by- 
desires that never can be satisfied, to feel many evils whicte 
he had no power to avoid, and to fear many which he shaL. 
never feel: there will surely come a time, when ever^ 
capacity of happiness shall be filled, and none shall fan 
wretched but by his own fault. 

In the mean time, it is by affliction chiefly that the hea_r 
of man is purified, and that the thoughts are fixed upon 
better state. Prosperity, allayed and imperfect as it is, b.s 
power to intoxicate the imagination, to fix the mind upo 
the present scene, to produce confidence and elation, and X< 
make him who enjoys affluence and honours forget the banc 
by which they were bestowed. It is seldom that we ar^ 
otherwise, than by affliction, awakened to a sense of our 
own imbecility, or taught to know how little all our acquisi- 
tions can conduce to safety or to quiet ; and how justly w^ 
may ascribe to the superintendence of a higher power, thos^ 
blessings which in the wantonness of success we considered 
as the attainments of our policy or courage. 

Nothing confers so much ability to resist the temptation* 
that perpetually surround us, as an habitual consideration oT 
the shortness of life, and the uncertainty of those pleasure* 
that solicit our pursuit; and this consideration can be? 


inculcated only by affliction. " O Death ! how bitter is the 

" remembrance of thee, to a man that lives at ease in his 

"possessions ! " If our present state were one continued 

succession of delights, or one uniform flow of calmness and 

trajiquillity, we should never willingly think upon its end ; 

death would then surely surprise us as "a thief in the 

^ight ; *' and our task of duty would remain unfinished, till 

** tlie night came when no man can work." 

IVhile affliction thus prepares us for felicity, we may 
Console ourselves under its pressures, by remembering, that 
tVxcy are no particular marks of Divine displeasure ; since 
^-UL the distresses of persecution have been suffered by those, 
** of whom the world was not worthy; and the Redeemer of 
** Idankind himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted 
** irith grief." 

Tuesday y February 26, 1754. 

«* Ti « l^p€^a.'' Pyth. 

" What have I been doing? " 

A S man is a being very sparingly furnished with the 
^ power of prescience, he can provide for the future 
^*>ly by considering the past ; and as futurity is all in which 
*^ has any real interest, he ought very diligently to use the 
^*^ly means by which he can be enabled to enjoy it, and 
frequently to revolve the experiments which he has hitherto 
*^de upon life, that he may gain wisdom from his mistakes, 
^*Xd caution from his miscarriages. 

Though I do not so exactly conform to the precepts of 


Pythagoras, as to practise every night this solemn recollec- 
tion, yet I am not so lost in dissipation as wholly to omi 
it ; nor can I forbear sometimes to inquire of myself, ir 
what employment my life has passed away. Much of mj 
time has sunk into nothing, and left no trace by which \\ 
can be distinguished; and of this I now only know, 
that it was once in my power, and might once have beet 

Of other parts of life, memory can give some account ; al 
some hours I have been gay, and at others serious; ] 
have sometimes mingled in conversation, and sometimes 
meditated in solitude; one day has been spent in con 
suiting the ancient sages, .and another in writin. 

At the conclusion of any undertaking, it is usual ^ 
compute the loss and profit As I shall soon cease to wrfi. 
Adventurers^ I could not forbear lately to consider what I&j: 
been the consequence of my labours ; and whether I am I 
reckon the hours laid out in these compositions, as applie 
to a good and laudable purpose, or suffered to fume awaj 
in useless evaporations. 

That I have intended well, I have the attestation of mj 
own heart: but good intentions may be frustrated when 
they are executed without suitable skill, or directed to an 
end unattainable in itself. 

Some there are who leave writers very little room fox 
self-congratulation; some who affirm, that books have xaO 
influence upon the publick, that no age was ever mad^ 
better by its authors, and that to call upon mankind tc 
correct their manners, is like Xerxes^ to scourge the winds 
or shackle the torrent 

* Note XXII., Appendix, 


This opinion they pretend to support by unfailing 
eaq)erience. The world is full of fraud and corruption, 
lupine or malignity; interest is the ruling motive of 
^Mankind, and every one is endeavouring to increase his own 
stores of happiness by perpetual accumulations, without 
reflecting upon the numbers whom his superfluity condemns 
to want: in this state of things a book or morality is 
published, in which charity and benevolence are strongly 
enforced; and it is proved beyond opposition, that men are 
^ppy in proportion as they are virtuous, and rich as they 
are liberal. The book is applauded, and the author is 
preferred ; he imagines his applause deserved, and receives 
less pleasure from the acquisition of reward than the con- 
sciousness of merit Let us look again upon mankind: 
interest is still the ruling motive, and the world is yet full of 
feud and corruption, malevolence and rapine. 

The difficulty of confuting this assertion, arises merely 
^m its generality and comprehension : to overthrow it by a 
^il of distinct facts, requires a wider survey of the world 
"^ human eyes can take ; the progress of reformation is 
^dual and silent, as the extension of evening shadows; 
^^ know that they were short at noon, and are long at 
^Set, but our senses were not able to discern their increase: 
^^ know of every civil nation, that it was once savage, 
^"^ how was it reclaimed but by precept and admonition ? 

"^^ankind are universally corrupt, but corrupt in different 

^Kt-ees ; as they are universally ignorant, yet with greater 

less irradiations of knowledge. How has knowledge 

'^ 'virtue been increased and preserved in one place be- 

r^^d another; but by diligent inculcation and rational 


. ^ooks of moraHty are daily written, yet its influence 
** still little in the world; so the ground is annually 


ploughed, and yet multitudes are in want of bread. But, 
surely, neither the labours of the moralist nor of the 
husbandman are vain; let them for a while neglect their 
tasks, and their usefulness will be known ; the wickedness 
that is now frequent would become universal, the bread 
that is now scarce would wholly fail. 

The power, indeed, of every individual is small, and 
the consequence of his endeavours imperceptible in a ^ 
general prospect of the world. Providence has given no^; 
man ability to do much, that something be left for evei]^ 
man to do. The business of life is carried on by a generaTl. 
co-operation ; in which the part of any single man 
be no more distinguished, than the effect of a particul 
drop when the meadows are floated by a summer showei 
yet every drop increases the inundation, and every 
adds to the happiness or misery of mankind. 

That a writer, however zealous or eloquent, seldo^xo 
works a visible effect upon cities or nations, will read Si/ 
be granted. The book which is read most, is read by 
few, compared with those that read it not ; and of those 
few, the greater part peruse it with dispositions that very 
Httle favour their own improvement. 

It is difficult to enumerate the several motives which 
procure to books the honour of perusal : spite, vanity, 
and curiosity, hope and fear, love and hatred, every passioa 
which incites to any other action serves at one time or 
other to stimulate a reader. 

Some are fond to take a celebrated volume into their 
hands, because they hope to distinguish their penetration, 
by finding faults which have escaped the publick ; others 
eagerly buy it in, the first bloom of reputation, that they 
may join the chorus of praise, and not lag, as Falstaff^ 
terms it, in " the rearward of the fashion," 


Some read for styles and some for argument ; one has 

litde care about the sentiment, he observes only how it 

is expressed ; another regards not the conclusion, but is 

diligent to mark how it is inferred: they read for other 

purposes than the attainment of practical knowledge ; and 

are no more likely to grow wise by an examination of a 

treatise of moral prudence than an architect to inflame 

Ws devotion by considering attentively the proportions 

of a temple. 

Some read that they may embellish their conversation, 
or shine in dispute; some that they may not be detected 
in ignorance, or want the reputation of literary accom- 
plishments: but the most general and prevalent reason 
of study is the impossibility of finding another amusement 
equally cheap or constant, equally independent on the 
hour or the weather.* He that wants money to follow 
the chase of pleasure through her yearly circuit, and is 
^ at home when the gay world rolls to Bath or Tunbridge; 
^ whose gout compels him to hear from his chamber 
^e rattle of chariots transporting happier beings to plays 
^ assemblies, will be forced to seek in books a refuge 
^^ himself. 

'^he author is not wholly useless, who provides innocent 

^'^^Usements for .minds like these. There are^ in the 

'^^^nt state of things, so many more instigations to evil, 

™^*^ incitements to good, that he who keeps men in a 

"^^tral state, may be iustly considered as a benefactor 

^ life. 

•^ut, perhaps, it seldom happens, that study terminates in 
^^^« pastime. Books have always a secret influence on the 
^^erstanding ; we cannot at pleasure obliterate ideas : he 

* Note XXI 11., Appendix. 


that reads books of science, though without any fixec 
desire of improvement, will grow more knowing ; he tha 
entertains himself with moral or religious treatises, wi] 
imperceptibly advance in goodness ; the ideas which ar 
often offered to the mind, will at last find a lucky momer 
when it is disposed to receive them. 

It is, therefore, urged without reason, as a discourage 
ment to writers, that there are already books sufficient i 
the world; that all the topicks of persuasion have bee 
discussed, and every important question clearly stated an 
justly decided; and that, therefore, there is no room t 
hope that pigmies should conquer where heroes have bee 
defeated, or that the petty copiers of the present time shoul- 
advance the great work of reformation, which their pre 
decessors were forced to leave unfinished. 

Whatever be the present extent of human knowledge, ii 
is not only finite, and therefore in its own nature capable o\ 
increase; but so narrow, that almost every understanding 
may, by a diligent application of its powers, hope to enlarge 
it It is, however, not necessary, that a man should forbeaJ 
to write, till he has discovered some truth unknown before 
he may be sufficiently useful, by only diversifying th< 
surface of knowledge, and luring the mind by a new appear 
ance to a second view of those beauties which it had passec 
over inattentively before. Every writer may find intellects 
correspondent to his own, to whom his expressions ari 
familiar and his thoughts congenial > and, perhaps, truth i 
often more successfully propagated by men of moderate 
abilities, who, adopting the opinions of others, have no can 
but to explain them clearly, than by subtle speculatists ani 
curious searchers, who exact from their readers power 
equal to their own, and if their fabricks of science b 
strong, take no care to make them accessible. 


For my part, I do not r^et the hours which I have laid 
out in these little compositions. That the world has grown 
apparently better, since the publication of the Adventurer^ 
I have not observed ; but am willing to think, that many 
have been affected by single sentiments, of which it is their 
business to renew the impression ; that many have caught 
hints of truth, which it is now their duty to pursue ; and 
that those who have received no improvement, have wanted 
Bot opportunity but intention to improve. 

Saturday, March 2, 1754. 

" Quidpurh tranquillet ? honos, an duke lucellum^ 
An secretum iter, etfallerUis semiia vita ? " HOB. 

** Whether the tranquil mind and pure, 
Honours or wealth our bliss insure ; 
Or down through life unknown to stray, 
Where lonely leads the silent way.*' Francis. 

JJAVING considered the importance of authors to the 

wel&re of the publick, I am led by a natural train 

^ thought, to reflect on their condition with regard to 

"'^^selves ; and to inquire what degree of happiness 

^ Vexation is annexed to the difficult and laborious 

^Ployment of providing instruction or entertainment for 

Iri estimating the pain or pleasure of any particular state, 

^^ man, indeed, draws his decisions from his own breast, 

*^^ cannot with certainty determine, whether other minds 

?^^ affected by the same causes in the same manner. Yet 

^ this criterion we must be content to judge, because no 



other can be obtained ; and, indeed, we have no reason t 
think it very fallacious, for excepting here and there ai 
anomalous mind, which either does not feel like others, o 
dissembles its sensibility, we find men unanimously concu 
in attributing happiness or misery to particular conditions 
as they agree in acknowledging the cold of winter and th 
heat of autumn. 

If we apply to authors themselves for an account o 
their state, it will appear very little to deserve envy \ fa 
they have in all ages been addicted to complaint Tbc 
neglect of learning, the ingratitude of the present age, and 
the absurd preference by which ignorance and dulness 
often obtain favour and rewards, have been from age to age 
topicks of invective; and few have left their names to 
posterity, without some appeal to future candour from the 
perverseness and malice of their own times. 

I have nevertheless, been often inclined to doubt, 
whether authors, however querulous, are in reality more 
miserable than their fellow mortals. The present life is to 
all a state of infelicity ; every man, like an author, believes 
himself to merit more than he obtains, and solaces the 
present with the prospect of the future; others, indeed, 
suffer those disappointments in silence, of which the writet 
complains, to show how well he has learnt the art (^ 

There is at least one gleam of felicity, of which fevi 
writers have missed the enjoyment : he whose hopes have sc 
far overpowered his fears, as that he has resolved to stanc 
forth a candidate for fame, seldom fails to amuse himself 
before his appearance, with pleasmg scenes of affluence tf 
honour ; while his fortune is yet under the regulation o 
fancy, he easily models it to his wish, suffers no thoughts o 
criticks or rivals to intrude upon his mind, but count 

e btwnnif^ rf jmiiwiw. . wr sssssr tt -tEf -xvc^t ir 

of 2£ aiiQiu E 'ir 

s of icvsntoiii. wliSL 


rho coone Id s lonijBCt nF DsansmnL w lU. Trrriry inL 

i2>d znanscftcni. Ti''yng s. imgrfi si muiissiiic 
□jem. miitai odc Kmnneic ^samrr iwi ifni'**^ snicnsi. 

niDOEB : soz BDCD iMiuini*g&. TTif- £?^sifs: iFsmi^r a:t 
rajs obtam; jm^ canmnn: -y-Tgr? cnnv x nnrr 12^ 
as Isi ^ ihhTh is Ttassibihrr. C-nmrirsorc: :&, 
poBt. an c&r: of fiiE»v rrrigsj:^ iji sr-aj-rr 
ianrf% to^idada ixexEnnf s rriigggd br Decaesscr cr 
ion, and frooB viflcii iBoe jg;iH.:'mi: is evesr xdcsbksA 
; to moie <V^Tgi<ftl jaiiwiiw 'Jiiw 
leqaenth- bappoB^ dai a des^ vbidx vben ocn* 
. at a distanoe. gave &menw bopes of ^cSitT. mocks 
le eyecntion vith unexpected diSachies : the mind 
while it ciODsidered it in tbe gixsss, imagined itself 
famished with materials^ finds sometimes an unov 
barrenness and vacnitr, and wonders whither jiU 
ideas are vanished, which a little before sivmcd 
ing for emission. 

etimes many thoughts present themselves ; but ntl 
ed and unconnected, that they arc not without 
ty reduced to method, or concatenated in A rcg\))(ir 
ependent series: the mind falls at om?e inh> a 
ith, of which neither the beginning nor oud vm\ Im 


discovered, and toils and struggles without progress o 

It is asserted by Horace, that " if matter be once go 
" together, words will be found with very little difficulty ; 
a position whicli, though sufficiently plausible to be inserts 
in poetical precepts, is by no means strictly and philc 
sophically true. If words were naturally and necessaril 
consequential to sentiments, it would always follow, that h 
who has most knowledge must have most eloquence, an 
that every man would clearly express what he fully unde 
stood : yet we find, that to think, and discourse, are oft^ 
the qualities of different persons : and many books mig; 
surely be produced, where just and noble sentiments s^ 
degraded and obscured by unsuitable diction. 

Words, therefore, as well as things, claim the care of a 
author. Indeed of many authors, and those not useless o\ 
contemptible, words are almost the only care : many make 
it their study, not so much to strike out new sentiments, as 
to recommend those which are already known to more 
favourable notice by fairer decorations: but every man, 
whether he copies or invents, whether he delivers his own 
thoughts or those of another, has often found himself 
deficient in the power of expression, big with ideas 
which he could not utter, obliged to ransack his memorj 
for terms adequate to his conceptions, and at last unabU 
to impress upon his reader the image existing in his owt 

It is one of the common distresses of a writer, to Ix 
within a word of a happy period, to want only a singl 
epithet to give amplification its full force, to require only J 
correspondent term in order to finish a paragraph witl 
elegance, and make one of its members answer to the othel 
but these deficiencies cannot always be supplied : and aft£ 


a long study and vexation, the passage is turned anew, and 
the web unwoven that was so nearly finished. 

But when thoughts and words are collected and adjusted, 
and the whole composition at last concluded, it seldom 
gratifies the author when he comes coolly and deliberately 
to review it, with the hopes which had been excited in the 
fiuy of the performance : novelty always captivates the 
mind; as our thoughts rise fresh upon us, we readily 
believe them just and original, which, when the pleasure of 
productipn is over, we find to be mean and common, or 
borrowed from the works of others, and supplied by memory 
Hither than invention. 

But though it should happen that the writer finds no 
soch faults in his performance, he is still to remember, that 
he looks upon it with partial eyes : and when he considers 
how much m6n who could judge of others with great 
ttactness, have often failed of judging of themselves, he will 
he afraid of deciding too hastily in his own favour, or of 
allowing himself to contemplate with too much com- 
licence, treasure that has not yet been brought to the test, 
nor passed the only trial that can stamp its value. 

From the publick, and only from the publick, is he to 

*^t a confirmation of his claim, and a final justification of 

stf-esteem; but the publick is not easily persuaded to 

^vour an author. If mankind were left to judge for 

themselves, it is reasonable to imagine, that of such 

Stings, at least, as describe the movements of the human 

passions, and of which every man carries the archetype 

^wthin him, a just opinion would be formed ; but whoever 

has remarked the fate of books, must have found it 

I Rovemed by other causes, than general consent arising from 

■ general conviction. If a new performance happens not to 

B Ul into the hands of some who have courage to tell, and 



authority to propagate their opinion, it often re 
in obscurity, and perishes unknown and unexa 
few, a very few, commonly constitute the taste of 
the judgment which they had once pronounced 
too lazy to discuss, and some too timorous to co 
may however be, I think, observed, that thai 
greater to depress than exalt, as mankind 
credulous of censure than of praise. 

This perversion of the publick judgment is 
rashly numbered amongst the miseries of an aul 
it commonly serves, after miscarriage, to recon( 
himself. Because the world has sometimes 
unjust sentence, he readily concludes the sente 
by which his performance is condemned; bee 
have been exalted above their merits by partiality 
to ascribe the success of a rival, not to the m 
work, but the zeal of his patrons. Upon the wt 
author seems to share all the common miseries 
appears to partake likewise of its lenitives and ab 

* Note XXIV., Appendix. 




I 4 U 


1 758-1 760. 


[Dr. Johnson began the Idler on the 15th of April 1758, in a 

"Saturday newspaper called the Universal Chronicle^ or Weekly Gazette; 

^ last number appeared on the 5th of April 1760. Out of the hun- 

*^ and three essays of which the Idler consists, Johnson wrote all 

^* twelve. BoBwell remarks that the Idler is " evidently the work of 

^ same mind which produced the Ramhler^ but has less body and 

^Ore spirit • . . Johnson describes the miseries of idleness, with the 

^^ly sensations of one who has felt them ; and in his private memo- 

^^dums while engaged in it, we find, 'This year I hope to learn 

^^tgence.* Many of these excellent essays were written as hastily as 

^'^ ordinary letter. Mr. Langton remembers Johnson, when on a visit 

^ ^ Oxford, asking him one evening when the post went out ; and on 

ing told in about half-an-hour, he exclaimed, ' Then we shall do very 

^U.' He upon this instantly sat down and finished an Idler ^ which it 

'^ necessary should be in London the next day.^—CBosweU's Life of 

^Ansen, voL i., 330.) *'The Idlers were inserted in the Universal 

^Aronicle on the plea that the 'occurrences of the week were not 

^^ffident to fill the columns ; ' but they at once became its chief attrac- 

^on, and Johnson had, in January 1759, to prepare an advertisement, 

^iraming the publishers of other papers who had, ' with so little regard 

to justice or decency,' reprinted them into their own columns without 

|>ernu88ion or acknowledgment ; that the ' time of impunity was at an 

end.' ' Whoever,' he said, ' shall, without our leave, lay the hand of 

lapine upon our pages, is to expect that we shall vindicate our due by 


the means which justice prescribes, and which are warranted by the 
immemorial prescriptions of honourable trade.'" — (English News- 
papers: Chapters in the History of Journalism. By H. R, Fox 
Bourne. VoL i., p. 144.)] 

Saturday, April 15, 1758.* 

*' Vacui sub umbra 
Lusimus.** HoK, 

'X'HOSE who attempt periodical essays seem to be o\ 
^ stopped in the begimiing, by the difficulty of finrlir^ 
a proper title. Two writers, since the time of the Spectaior^ 
have assumed his name, without any pretensions to lawf^L: 
inheritance ; an effort was once made to revive the Tat k^ 
and the strange appellations by which other papers hssiz^t 
been called, show that the authors were distressed like tlie 
natives of America, who come to the Europeans to beg" z 

It will be easily believed of the Idler, that if his title had 
required any search, he never would have found it. Eveiy 
mode of life has its conveniencies. The Idler, who 
habituates himself to be satisfied with what he can most 
easily obtain, not only escapes labours which are often 
fruitless, but sometimes succeeds better than those who 
despise all that is within their reach, and think every thing 
more valuable as it is harder to be acquired. 

If similitude of manners be a motive to kindness, the 
Idler may flatter himself with universal patronage. There 

* Originally published in The Universal Chronicle^ or fVeeilf 
Gazette, a newspaper projected by Mr. John Newbery. 


^ no single character under which such numbers are 
^naprised. Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. Even 
^^ose who seem to differ most from us are hastening to 
increase our fraternity ; as peace is the end of war, so to be 
^^e is the ultimate purpose of the busy. 

There is perhaps no appellation by which a writer can 
*^tter denote his kindred to the human species. It has 
"^en found hard to describe man by an adequate definition. 
^oixie philosophers have called him a reasonable animal; 
^^t others have considered reason as a quality of which 
'^any creatures partake. He has been termed likewise a 
^Ughing animal ; but it is said that some men have never 
*^Ughed. Perhaps man may be more properly distinguished 
^ an idle animal : for there is no man who is not sometimes 
^<lle. It is at least a definition from which none that shall 
^d it in this paper can be excepted ; for who can be more 
^tile than the reader of the Idler 1 

That the definition may be complete, idleness must be 
llot only the general but tlie peculiar characteristic of man \ 
^xA perhaps man is the only being that can properly be 
Called idle, that does by others what he might do himself, 
or sacrifices duty or pleasure to the love of ease. 

Scarcely any name can be imagined from which less envy 
or competition is to be dreaded. The Idler has no rivals 
or enemies. The man of business forgets him \ the man of 
enterprise despises him \ and though such as tread the same 
track of life fall commonly into jealousy and discord, Idlers 
are always found to associate in peace; and he who is 
most famed for doing nothing, is glad to meet another as 
idle as himself. 

What is to be expected from this paper, whether it will 
be uniform or various, learned or familiar, serious or gay, 
political or moral, continued or interrupted, it is hoped that 


no reader will inquire. That the Idler has some scheme, 
cannot be doubted; for to form schemes is the Idler's 
privilege. But though he has many projects in his head, 
he is now grown sparing of communication, having observed, 
that his hearers are apt to remember what he forgets ^ 
himself; that his tardiness of execution exposes him to th 
encroachments of those who catch a hint and fall to work 
and that very specious plans, after long contrivance an( 
pompous displays, have subsided in weariness without 
trial, and without miscarriage have been blasted 

Something the Idler's character may be supposed 
promise. Those that are curious after diminutive histo: 
who watch the revolutions of families, and the rise a- mn^ 
fall of characters either male or female, will hope to 2)e 
gratified by this paper; for the Idler is always inquisitive 
and seldom retentive He that delights in obloquy stnd 
satire, and wishes to see clouds gathering over any 
reputation that dazzles him with its brightness, will snatch 
up the Idler^s essays with a beating heart The Idler is 
naturally censorious; those who attempt nothing them- 
selves think every thing easily performed, and consider 
the unsuccesful always as criminals. 

I think it necessary to give notice, that I make nO 
contract, nor incur any obligation. If those who depend 
on the Idler for intelligence and entertainment should 
suffer the disappointment which commonly follows ill- 
placed expectations, they are to lay the blame only to 

Yet hope is not wholly to be cast away. The Idler, 
though sluggish, is yet alive, and may sometimes be 
stimulated to vigour and activity. He may descend into 
profoundness, or tower into sublimity; for the diligaice 


in Idler is rapid and impetuous, as ponderous bodies 
ed into velocity move with violence proportionate to 
r weight 

ut these vehement exertions of intellect cannot be 
ient, and he will therefore gladly receive help from 
correspondent who shall enable him to please without 
own labour. He excludes no style, he prohibits no 
jct; only let him that writes to the Idler remember, 
his letters must not be long; no words are to be 
ndered in declarations of esteem, or confessions of 
ility; conscious dulness has little right to be prolix, 
praise is not so welcome to the Idler as quiet. 

Saturday^ April 22, 1758. 

" TtUo vix quater anno 
Mtmbranam,^' HoR. 

ANY positions are often on the tongue, and seldom 
in the mind; there are many truths which every 
m being acknowledges and forgets. It is generally 
m, that he who expects much will be often disap- 
:ed; yet disappointment seldom cures us of expectation, 
as any other eflfect than that of producing a moral 
nee or peevish exclamation. He that embarks in 
voyage of life, will always wish to advance rather by 
impulse of the wind than the strokes of the oar; 
many founder in the passage, while they lie waiting 
le gale that is to waft them to their wish, 
will naturally be suspected that the Idler has lately 
red some disappointment, and that he does not talk 


thus gravely for nothing. No man is required to betraj 
his own secrets. I will, however, confess, that I havi 
now been a writer almost a week, and have not y^^j 
heard a single word of praise, nor received one hint fro^::^, 
any correspondent. 

Whence this negligence proceeds I am not able to 
discover. Many of my predecessors have thought them- 
selves obliged to return their acknowledgments in the 
second paper, for the kind reception of the first ; and, in a 
short time, apologies have become necessary to those 
ingenious gentlemen and ladies, whose performances^ 
though in the highest degree el^ant and learned, have been .r^j 
unavoidably delayed. f :-tj 

What then will be thought of me, who, having experi- l^jc 
enced no kindness, have no thanks to return \ whom no l^ea 
gentleman or lady has yet enabled to give any cause o^ lis 
discontent, and who have therefore no opportunity d |-;^ 
showing how skilfully I can pacify resentment, extenuate 
negligence, or palliate rejection ? J ^^ 

I have long known that splendour of reputation is not 
to be counted among the necessaries of life, and therefoce 
shall not much repine if praise be withheld till it is better 
deserved. But surely I may be allowed to complain, that, 
in a nation of authors, not one has thought me worthy of 
notice after so fair an invitation. 

At the time when the rage of writing has seized the old 
and young, when the cook warbles her lyricks in the kitchen, 
and the thrasher vociferates his heroicks in the bam ; when 
our traders deal out knowledge in bulky volumes, and oar 
girls forsake their samplers to teach kingdoms wisdom ] it 
may seem very unnecessary to draw any more from their 
proper occupations, by affording new opportunities of 
literary fame. 


I should be indeed unwilling to find that, for the sake of 
corresponding with the Idler^ the smith's iron had cooled on 
the anvil, or the spinster's distaff stood unemployed. I 
solicit only the contributions of those who have already 
devoted themselves to literature, or, without any determinate 
intention, wander at large through the expanse of life, and 
wear out the day in hearing at one place what they utter at 

Of these, a great part are ahready writers. One has a 
ftend in the country upon whom he exercises his powers ; 
whose passions he raises and depresses; whose under- 
standing he perplexes with paradoxes, or strengthens by 
argument; whose admiration he courts, whose praises he 
enjoys; and who serves him instead of a senate or a 
theatre ; as the young soldiers in the Roman camp learned 
the use of their weapons by fencing against a post in the 
place of an enemy. 

Another has his pockets filled with essays and epigrams, 
which he reads from house to house to select parties, 
and which his acquaintances are daily entreating him to 
withhold no longer firom the impatience of the publick. 

If among these any one is persuaded, that, by such 
preludes of composition, he has qualified himself to appear 
in the open world, and is yet afraid of those censures 
which they who have already written, and they who cannot 
write, are equally ready to fulminate against publick 
pretenders to fame, he may, by transmitting his perform- 
ances to the IdleVy make a cheap experiment of his abilities, 
and enjoy the pleasure of success without the hazard of 

Many advantages not generally known arise from this 
method of stealing on the publicL The standing author of 
the paper is always the object of critical malignity. 


Whatever is mean will be imputed to him, and whatever is 
excellent be ascribed to his assistants. It does not much 
alter the event, that the author and his correspondents 
are equally unknown ; for the author, whoever he be, is an 
individual of whom every reader has some fixed idea, andj 
whom he is therefore unwilling to gratify with applause ; balfl 
the praises given to his correspondents are scattered in tha 
air, none can tell on whom they will light, and therefore 
none are unwilling to bestow them. 

He that is known to contribute to a periodical woikd 
needs no other caution than not to tell what particul^^ 
pieces are his own ; such secrecy is indeed very difl&cul'rr-- 
but if it can be maintained, it is scarcely to be imagined 
how small an expence he may grow considerable. 

A person of quality, by a single paper, may engross fc^Tj 
honour of a volume. Fame is indeed dealt with a hmja^ 
less and less bounteous through the subordinate ranks, t/Q 
it descends to the professed author, who will find it y^eiy 
difficult to get more than he deserves ; but every man who 
does not want it, or who needs not value it, may have 
liberal allowances ; and, for five letters in the year sent to 
the Idler^ of which perhaps only two are printed, will be 
promoted to the first rank of writers by those who are weary 
of the present race of wits,* and wish to sink them into 
obscurity before the lustre of a name not yeit known enouj^ 
to be detested. 

* Note XXV., Appendix. 


Saturday y July 15, 1758. 

IX rHEN Diogenes received a visit in his tub from 
^ Alexander the Great, and was asked, according to 
"ie ancient forms of royal courtesy, what petition he had 
^ offer; "I have nothing," said he, "to ask, but that you 
^uld remove to the other side, that you may not, by 
'^tercepting the sunshine, take from me what you cannot 
ive me." 

Such was the demand of Diogenes from the greatest 
Monarch of the earth ; which those who have less power 
^n Alexander may, with yet more propriety, apply to 
^emselves. He that does much good, may be allowed to 
o soxnetimes a little harm. But if the opportunities of 
•eneficence be denied by fortune, innocence should at least 
»c vigilantly preserved. 

It is well known, that time once past never returns ; and 
hat the moment which is lost is lost for ever. Time there- 
ore ought, above all other kinds of property, to be free 
rom invasion ; and yet there is no man who does not claim 
lie power of wasting that time which is the right of others. 

This usurpation is so general, that a very small part of 
lie year is spent by choice; scarcely any thing is done 
rhen it is intended, or obtained when it is desired. Life is 
ontinually ravaged by invaders ; one steals away an hour, 
nd another a day ; one conceals the robbery by hurrying 
s into business, another by lulling us with amusement; 
[le depredation is continued through a thousand vicissi- 
iides of tumult and tranquillity, till, having lost all, we can 
>se no more. 


This waste of the lives of men has been very frequently 
charged upon the Great, whose followers linger from year 
to year in expectations, and die at last with petitions in 
their hands. Those who raise envy will easily incur 
censure. I know not whether statesmen and patrons do 
not suffer more reproaches than they deserve, and may na^ 
rather themselves complain, that they are given up a prey 
to pretensions without merit, and to importunity without 

The truth is, that the inconveniences of attendance sue 
more lamented than felt To the greater number solicitatioo 
is its own reward. To be seen in good company, to talk of 
familiarities with men of power, to be able to tell tlie 
freshest news, to gratify an inferior circle with predictions of 
increase or decline of favour, and to be regarded as a 
candidate for high offices, are compensations more than 
equivalent to the delay of favours, which perhaps he that 
begs them has hardly confidence to expect 

A man conspicuous in a high station, who multij^es 
hopes that he may multiply dependants, may be considered 
as a beast of prey, justly dreaded, but .easily avoided; bis 
den is known, and they who would not be devoured need 
not approach it. The great danger of the waste of time Ib 
firom caterpillars and moths, who are not resisted, because 
they are not feared, and who work on with imheeded 
mischiefs and invisible encroachments. 

He whose rank or merit procures him the notice of 
mankind must give up himself, in a great measure, to tk 
convenience or humour of those who surround him. Eveif 
man who is sick of himself will fiy to him for relief ; he that 
wants to speak will requure him to hear ; and he that wants 
to hear will expect him to speak. Hour passes after honi; 
the noon succeeds to morning, and the evening to noon, 



a thousand objects are forced upon his attention, 
. he rejects as fast as they are offered, but which the 
m of the world requires to be received with appearance 

we will have the kindness of others, we must endure 
follies. He who cannot persuade himself to withdraw 
society, must be content to pay a tribute of his time 

multitude of tyrants ; to the loiterer, who makes 
ntments which he never keeps ; to the consulter, who 
advice which he never takes; to the boaster, who 
5rs only to be praised ; to the complainer, who whines 
to be pitied; to the projector, whose happiness is to 
tain his friends with expectations which all but himself 

to be vain ; to the economist, who tells of bargains 
ettlements ; to the politician, who predicts the fate of 
IS and breach of alliances ; to the usurer, who com- 

the different funds ; and to the talker, who talks only 
ise he loves to be talking. 

put every man in possession of his own time, and 
e the day from this succession of usurpers, is beyond 
ower, and beyond my hope. Yet, perhaps, some stop 
t be put to this unmerciful persecution, if all would 
jsly reflect, that whoever pays a visit that is not 
2d, or talks longer than the hearer is willing to attend, 
ilty of an injury which he cannot repair, and takes 

that which he cannot give. 


Saturday^ September 23, 1758. 

T IF£ has no pleasure higher or nobler than that of^,^ 
-■-' friendship. It is painful to consider, that this sublime ^ 

enjoyment may be impaired or destroyed by innumerabl 
causes, and that there is no human possession of which 
duration is less certain. 

Many have talked, in very exalted language^ of t^%^ 
perpetuity of friendship, of invincible constancy, ^mn^ 
unalienable kindness \ and some examples Hkve been se^ca 
of men who have continued faithful to their earliest chovc^ 
and whose affection has predominated over changes of 
fortune and contrariety of opinion. 

But these instances are memorable, because they are 
rare. The friendship which is to be practised or expected 
by common mortals, must take its rise from mutual pleasure^ 
and must end when the power ceases of delighting each 

Many accidents therefore may happen, by which the 
ardour of kindness will be abated, without criminal base* 
ness or contemptible inconstancy on either part. To give 
pleasure is not always in our power ; and little does he 
know himself, who believes that he can be always able to 
receive it. 

Those who would gladly pass their days together may be 
separated by the different course of their affairs ; and friend- 
ship, like love, is destroyed by long absence, though it ma; 
be increased by short intermissions. What we have misse 
long enough to want it, we value more when it is regaine( 
but that which has been lost till it is forgotten, will be fou 


with little gladness, and with still less if a substitute 
pplied the place. A man deprived of the companion 
m he used to open his bosom, and with whom he 

the hours of leisure and merriment, feels the day at 
.nging heavy on him ; his difficulties oppress and his 

distract him ; he sees time come and go without his 
I gratification, and all is sadness within, and solitude 
lim. But this uneasiness never lasts long ; necessity 
es expedients, new amusements are discovered, and 
nversation is admitted, 
expectation is more frequently disappointed, than that 

naturally arises in the mind from the prospect 
eting an old friend after long separation. We 
the attraction to be revived, and the coalition to be 
d ; no man considers how much alteration time has 
n himself, and very few inquire what effect it has had 
Dthers. The first hour convinces them, that the 
e which they have formerly enjoyed is for ever at an 
lifferent scenes have made different impressions ; the 
IS of both are changed; and that similitude of 
rs and sentiment is lost, which confirmed them both 
ipprobation of themselves. 

idship is often destroyed by opposition of interest, 
ly by the ponderous and visible interest which the 
Df wealth and greatness forms and maintains, but by 
sand secret and slight competitions, scarcely known 

mind upon which they operate. There is scarcely 
in without some favourite trifle which he values above 

attainments, some desire of petty praise which he 

patiently suffer to be frustrated. This minute 
)n is sometimes crossed before it is known, and some- 
iefeated by wanton petulance : but such attacks are 

made without the loss of friendship ; for, whoever 


has once found the vulnerable part will always be feared, 
and the resentment will burn on in secret, of which, shkme 
hinders the discovery. 

This, however, is a slow malignity, which a wise mai^::: 
will obviate as inconsistent with quiet, and a good nian wil^ 
repress as contrary to virtue ; but human happiness i^B 
sometimes violated by some more sudden strokes. 

A dispute begun in jest upon a subject which a momer^^ 
before was on both parts regarded with careless indifferencr^^ 
is continued by the desire of conquest, till vanity kind^^j 
into rage, and opposition rankles into enmity. Against tl&iis 
hasty mischief I know not what security can be obtained z 
men will be sometimes surprised into quarrels ; and thovigli 
they might both hasten to reconciliation, as soon as tbeir 
tumult had subsided, yet two minds will seldom be found! 
together, which can at once subdue their discontent^ ot 
immediately enjoy the sweets of peace, without remembeJ> 
ing the wounds of the conflict. 

Friendship has other enemies. Suspicion is always 
hardening the cautious, and disgust repelling the delicat:^ 
Very slender differences will sometimes part those whot*' 
long reciprocation of civility or beneficence has united 
Lonelove and Ranger retired into the country to enjoy tb^ 
company of each other, and returned in six weeks cold and 
petulant ; Ranger's pleasure was to walk in the fields, and 
Lonelove's to sit in a bower; each had complied with flic 
other in his turn, and each was angry that compliance had 
been exacted. «5 

The most fatal disease of friendship is gradual decay, or 
dislike hourly increased by causes too slender for complaint, 
and too numerous for removal.* — Those who are anpj 


Diay be reconciled; those who have been injured may 
receive a recompense : but when the desire of pleasing 
and willingness to be pleased is silently diminished, the 
'Novation of friendship is hopeless; as, when the vital 
powers sink into langour, there is no longer any use of the 

Saturday y November 11, 1758. 

J*HE desires of man increase with his acquisitions ; every 
step which he advances brings something within his 
^€w, which he did not see before, and which, as soon as he 
^^ it, he begins to want. Where necessity ends, curiosity 
^^^*ns ; and no sooner are we supplied with every thing that 
^ture can demand, than we sit down to contrive artificial 

By this restlessness of mind, every populous and wealthy 
^ity is filled with innumerable employments, for which the 
greater part of mankind is without a name ; with artificers, 
Mrhose labour is exerted in producing such petty con- 
veniences, that many shops are furnished with instruments 
of which the use can hardly be found without inquiry, but 
prhich he that once knows them quickly learns to numbei* 
imong necessary things. 

S'lch is the diligence with which, in countries completely 
nvilized, one part of mankind labours for another, that 
vants are supplied faster than they- can be formed, and the 
die and luxurious find life stagnate for want of some desire 
o keep it in motion. This species of distress ftimishes a 
lew set of occupations; and multitudes are busied, from 



day to day, in finding the rich and the fortunate something 
to do. 

It is very common to reproach those artists as useless^ 
who produce only such superfluities as neither accommodate 
the body nor improve the mind; and of which no other 
effect can be imagined, than that they are the occasions of 
spending money and consuming time. 

But this censure will be mitigated, when it is seriously 
considered, that money and time are the heaviest burdens 
of life, and that the unhappiest of all mortals are those wlio 
have more of either than they know how to use. To set 
himself free from these incumbrances, one hiuries to New- 
market ; another travels over Europe ; one pulls down his 
house and calls architects about him ; another buys a seat 
in the country, and follows his hounds over hedges and 
through rivers ; one makes collections of shells ; and another 
searches the world for tulips and carnations. 

He is surely a pubhck benefactor who finds employment 
for those to whom it is thus difficult to find it for themselves. 
It is true, that this is seldom done merely from generosity 
or compassion ; almost every man seeks his own advantage 
in helping others; and therefore it is too common fof 
mercenary officiousness to consider rather what is gratefiJ 
than what is right 

We all know that it is more profitable to be loved than 
esteemed ; and ministers of pleasure will always be found) 
who study to make themselves necessary, and to supplant 
those who are practising the same arts. 

One of the amusements of idleness is reading without the 
fatigue of close attention ; and the world therefore swarms 
with writers whose wish is not to be studied, but to be read 

No species of literary men has lately been so much 
multiplied as the writers of news. Not many years ago the 


lation was content with one gazette ; but now we have not 
)nly in the metropolis papers for every morning and every 
evening, but almost every large town has its weekly historian, 
who regularly circulates his periodical intelligence, and fills 
the villages of his district with conjectures on the events of 
war, and with debates on the true interest of Europe. 

To write news in its perfection requires such a combination 
of quahties, that a man completely fitted for the task is 
not always to be found In Sir Henry Wotton's jocular 
definition, " An ambassador is said to be a man of virtue 
sent abroad to tell lies for the advantage of his country ; a 
news-writer is a man without virtue, who writes lies at home 
for his own profit." To these compositions is required 
neither genius nor knowledge, neither industry nor spright- 
fciess ; but contempt of shame and indifference to truth are 
absolutely necessary. He who by a long familiarity with 
ni^y has obtained these qualities, may confidently tell 
'o^y what he intends to contradict to-morrow; he may 
affirm fearlessly what he knows that he shall be obliged to 
■"ccant, and may write letters from Amsterdam or Dresden 
to himself. 

In a time of war the nation is always of one mind, eager 
^ hear something good of themselves and ill of the enemy, 
^.t this time the task of news-writers is easy; they have 
Nothing to do but to tell that a battle is expected, and 
Aerwards that a battle has been fought, in which we and 
ur fiiends, whether conquering or conquered, did all, and 
ur enemies did nothing. 

Scarcely any thing awakens attention like a tale of cruelty, 
he writer of news never fails in the intermission of action 
► tell how the enemies murdered children and ravished 
rgins ; and, if the scene of action be somewhat distant, 
alps half the inhabitants of a province. 


Among the calamities of war may be justly numbered 
diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods wli 
interest dictates and credulity encourages. A peace 
equally leave the warrior and relater of wars destitute 
employment ; and I know not whether more is to 
dreaded from the streets filled with soldiers accuston 
to plunder, or from garrets filled with scribblers accuston 
to lie.* 

Saturday y November i8, 1758. 

IV yr ANY moralists have remarked, that pride has of J 
^^^ human vices the widest dominion, appears in tl 
greatest multiplicity of forms, and lies hid under the greate 
variety of disguises ; of disguises, which, like the moor 
veil of brightness^ are both its lustre and its shade^ ai 
betray it to others, though they hide it from ourselves. 

It is not my intention to degrade pride from this p 
eminence of mischief; yet I know not whether idlene 
may not maintain a very doubtful and obstinate competitio 

There are some that profess idleness in its full dignit 
who call themselves the Idle^ as Busiris in the play cai 
himself the Proud; who boast that they do nothing, ai 
thank their stars that they have nothing to do ; who sle( 
every night till they can sleep no longer, and rise only A 
exercise may enable them to sleep again ; who prolong d 
reign of darkness by double curtains, and never see tl 
sun but to tell him how they hate his beams ; whose who 
labour is to vary the posture of indolence, and whose di 

♦ Note XXVI., Appendix. 


fibers from their night but as a couch or chair differs from 

These are the true and open votaries of Idleness, for 
^^om she weaves the garlands of poppies, and into whose 
Cttp she pours the waters of oblivion; who exist in 
a state of unruffled stupidity, forgetting and forgotten ; 
who have long ceased to live, and at whose death the 
*wvivors can only say, that they have ceased to breathe. 

But idleness predominates in many lives where it is not 
suspected; for, being a vice which terminates in itself, it 
; Oiay be enjoyed without injury to others ; and it is there- 
' fore not watched like fraud, which endangers property ; or 
^ Kke pride, which naturally seeks its gratifications in 
J Another's inferiority. Idleness is a silent and peaceful 
^oality, that neither raises envy by ostentation, nor hatred 
; oy opposition ; and therefore nobody is busy to censure or 
detect it 

As pride sometimes is hid under humility, idleness is 

often covered by turbulence and hurry. He that neglects 

i las known duty and real emplojnnent, naturally endeavours 

.to CTowd his mind with something that may bar out the 

•emembrance of his own folly, and does any thing but what 

'kt ought to do with eager diligence, that he may keep 

[fcanself in his own favour. 

Some are always in a state of preparation, occupied in 

ious measures, forming plans, accumulating materials, 

providing for the main affair. These are certainly 

the secret power of idleness. Nothing is to be 

ed from the workman whose tools are for ever to be 

t I was once told by a great master, that no man 

••er excelled in painting, who was eminently curious about 

Pttcils and colours. 

"Riere are others to whom idleness dictates another 


expedient, by which life may be passed unprofit 
without the tediousness of many vacant hours. ' 
to fill the day with petty business, to have always ! 
in hand which may raise curiosity, but not solici 
keep the mind in a state of action, but not of labc 

This art has for many years been practised 1 
friend Sober* with wonderful success. Sober is 
strong desires and quick imagination, so exactly 
by the love of ease, that they can seldom stimuk 
any difficult undertaking; they have however 
power, that they will not suffer him to lie quite at 
though they do not make him sufficiently useful 
they make him at least weary of himself 

Mr. Sober's chief pleasure is conversation : tl 
end of his talk or his attention; to speak or t 
equally pleasing ; for he still fancies that he is te 
learning something, and is free for the time fror 

But there is one time at night when he must 
that his friends may sleep ; and another tin: 
morning, when all the world agrees to shut 
ruption.t These are the moments of which pc 
trembles at the thought But the misery of these 
intervals he has many means of alleviating, 
persuaded himself, that the manual arts are unc 
overlooked ; he has observed in many trades the 
close thought, and just ratiocination. From speci 
proceeded to practice, and supplied himj^elf with 
of a carpenter, with which he mended his coal 
successfully, and which he still continues to emp 
finds occasion. 

• Note XXVIL, Appendix. f Note XXVIII., Ap] 


He has attempted at other times the crafts of shoe- 
inaker, tinman, plumber, and potter ; in all the^e arts he 
has felled, and resolves to qualify himself for them by 
better information. But his daily amusement is chemistry. 
He has a small furnace, which he employs in distillation, 
and which has long been the solace of his life. He draws 
oils and waters, and essences and spirits, which he knows 
to be of no use ; sits and counts the drops as they come 
from his retort, and forgets that, whilst a drop is falling, a 
inoment flies away. 

Poor Sober 1 I have often teased him with reproof, and 
he has often promised reformation ; for no man is so much 
open to conviction as the Idler, but there is none on whom 
it operates so little. What will be the effect of this paper 
I know not ; perhaps he will read it and laugh, and light 
fee fire in his furnace ; but my hope is, that he will quit 
his trifles, and betake himself to rational and useful 

Saturday y December 23, 1758. 

TTHE great differences that disturb the peace of mankind 
•*- are not about ends, but means. We have all the 
same general desires; but how those desires shall be 
accomplished will for ever be disputed. The ultimate 
purpose of government is temporal, and that of religion is 
eternal, happiness. Hitherto we agree ; but here we must 
part, to try, according to the endless varieties of passion 
and understanding combined with one another, every 


possible form of governinent^ and every imaginable tenet 
of religion. 

We are told by Cumberland ^^X. rectitude^ applied to 
action or contemplation, is merely metaphorical ; and that 
as a right line describes the shortest passage from point to 
point, so a right action effects a good design by the fewest 
means; and so likewise a right opinion is that which, 
connects distant truths by the shortest train of intermediate 

To find the nearest way from truth to truth, or from 
purpose to effect, not to use more instruments where fewer 
will be sufficient, not to move by wheels and levers what 
will give way to the naked hand, is the great proof of a 
healthful and vigorous mind, neither feeble with helpless 
ignorance, nor over-burdened with unwieldly knowledge. 

But there are men who seem to think nothing so much 
the characteristick of a genius, as to do common things in 
an uncommon manner ; like Hudibras, to tell the clock by 
algebra ; or like the lady in Dr. Young's satires, to drink tea 
by stratagem; to quit the beaten track only because it is 
known, and take a new path, however crooked or rough, 
because the straight was found out before. 

Every man speaks and writes with intent to be under- 
stood ; and it can seldom happen but he that understands 
himself, might convey his notions to another, if, content to 
be understood, he did not seek to be admired ; but when, 
once he begins to contrive how his sentiments may be 
received, not with most ease to his reader, but with most 
advantage to himself, he then transfers his consideration 
from words to sounds, from sentences to periods, and, as he 
grows more elegant, becomes less intelligible. 

It is difficult to enumerate every species of authors whose 
labours counteract themselves] the man of exuberance 


nd copiousness, who diffuses every thought through so 
•^y diversities of expression, that it is lost like water in a 
ust ; the ponderous dictator of sentences, whose notions 
« delivered in the lump, and are, like uncoined bullion, of 
ore weight than use ; the liberal illustrator, who shows by 
amples and comparisons what was clearly seen when it was 
St proposed ; and the stately son of demonstration, who 
3ves with mathematical formality what no man has yet 
'tended to doubt. 

There is a mode of style for which I know not that the 
sters of oratory have yet found a name ; a style by which 
• most evident truths are so obscured, that they can no 
ger be perceived, and the most familiar propositions so 
guised that they cannot be known. Every other kind of 
quence is the dress of sense ; but this is the mask by 
tch a true master of his art will so effectually conceal it, 
t a man will as easily mistake his own positions, if 
meets them thus transformed, as he may pass in a 
Jquerade his nearest acquaintance, 
liis style may be called the terrific^* for its chief inten- 
is to terrify and amaze ; it may be termed the repulsive^ 
its natural effect is to drive away the reader ; or it may 
distinguished, in plain English, by the denomination of 
bugbear style, for it has more terrour than danger, and 
appear less formidable as it is more nearly approached. 
. mother tells her infant, that two and two make four ; 
child remembers the proposition, and is able to count 
to all the purpose of life, till the course of his education 
gs him among philosophers, who fright him from his 
ler knowledge, by telUng him, that four is a certain 
egate of units ; that all numbers being only the repetition 

* Note XXIX., Appendix. 


of an unit, which, though not a number itself is the pai 
root, or original of all number, four is the denomina 
assigned to a certain number of such repetitions. The < 
danger is, lest, when he first hears these dreadful soui 
the pupil should run away : if he has but the courage 
stay till the conclusion, he will find that, when speculal 
has done its worst, two and two still make four. 

An illustrious example of this species of eloquence i 
be found in Letters concerning Mind,* The author be^ 
by declaring, that the sorts of things are things that now i 
have beeny and shall be^ and the things that strictly are. In t 
position, except the last clause, in which he uses somethi 
of the scholastick language, there is nothing but what ev( 
man has heard, and imagines himself to know. But w 
would not believe that some wonderful novelty is present 
to his intellect, when he is afterwards told in the true bugh 
style, that the ares, in the former sense^ are things that lie 
tween the have-beens and shall-bes. The have-beens are thii 
that are fast ; the shall-bes are things that are to come; a 
the things that are, in the latter sense, are things that hi 
not beeny nor shall be^ nor stand in the midst of such as i 
before them^ or shall be after them. The things that he 
been, and shall be^ have respect to present^ pasty and fuiu 
Those likewise that now are have moreover place ; thaty^ 
instance^ which is here^ that which is to the easty that whicl 
to the west. 

All this, my dear reader, is very strange ; but thougt 
be strange, it is not new : survey these wonderful senten 
again, and they will be found to contain nothing m 
than very plain truths, which, till this author arose^ 1 
always been delivered in plain language. 

* By John Petvin. Published in London in 175a 



Saturday , Jantcary 2y , 1759. 

The following letter relates to an affliction perhaps not 
necessary to be imparted to the publick ; but I could 
Dot persuade myself to suppress it, because I think I know 
fe sentiments to be sincere, and I feel no disposition to 
provide for this day any other entertainment 
Mr. Idler, 
Notwithstanding the warnings of philosophers, and the 
toy examples of losses and misfortunes which life forces 
^n our observation, such is the absorption of our thoughts 
^ the business of the present day, such the resignation of 
our reason to empty hopes of future felicity, or such our 
^willingness to foresee what we dread, that every calamity 
^mes suddenly upon us, and not only presses us as a 
burthen, but crushes as a blow. 

There are evils which happen out of the common course 
of nature, against which it is no reproach not to be provided. 
A flash of lightning intercepts the traveller in his way ; the 
concussion of an earthquake heaps the ruins of cities upon 
fteir inhabitants. But other miseries time brings, though 
sflently yet visibly, forward by its even lapse, which yet 
approach us unseen because we turn our eyes away, and 
^^ us unresisted because we could not arm ourselves 
gainst them but by setting them before us. 

That it is vain to shrink from what cannot be avoided, 

*^^ to hide ^t from ourselves which must some time be 

°^d, is a .'truth which we all know, but which all neglect, 

^^ perh^jps none more than the speculative reasoner, 

^^se thoughts are always. from home, whose eye wanders 



over life, whose fancy dances over meteors of happiness 
kindled by itself, and who examines every thing rather than- — 
his own state. 

Nothing is more evident than that the decays of age must 
terminate in death ; yet there is no man, saj^ Tnlly, wh 
does not believe that he may yet live another year ; am 
there is none who does not, upon the same principle^ 
another year for his parent or his friend : but the fallac^^ 
will be in time detected ; the last year, the last day 
come.* It has come, and is passed. The life which 
my own life pleasant is at an end, and the gates of deatib 
are shut upon my prospects. 

The loss of a friend upon whom the heart was fixed, to 
whom every wish and endeavour tended, is a state of dreary 
desolation, in which the mind looks abroad impatient ot 
itself, and finds nothing but emptiness and horrour. The 
blameless life, the artless tenderness, the pious simplicity, 
the modest resignation, the patient sickness, and the quiet 
death, are remembered only to add value to the loss, io 
aggravate regret for what cannot be amended, to deepen 
sorrow for what cannot be recalled. 

These are the calamities by which Providence gradually 
disengages us from the love of life. Other evils fortitude 
may repel, or hope may mitigate ; but irreparable privatiot^ 
leaves nothing to exercise resolution or flatter expectation - 
The dead cannot return, and nothing is left us here bt*- 
languishment and grief. 

Yet such is the course of nature, that whoever lives loi^ 

must outlive those whom he loves and honours. Such :: 

the condition of our present existence, that life must on 

time lose its associations, and every inhabitant o? the eart 

♦ Note XXX., Appendix. "N* 



'iixjst walk downward to the grave alone and unregarded, 
^^thout any partner of his joy or grief, without any interested 
^^itness of his misfortunes or success. 

Misfortune, indeed, he may yet feel; for where is the 
fc^ottom of the misery of man ? But what is success to him 
tlxat has none to enjoy it ? Happiness is not found in self- 
^cmtemplation ; it is perceived only when it is reflected from 

We know little of the state of departed souls, because 
svich knowledge is not necessary to a good life. Reason 
^^serts us at the brink of the grave, and can give no further 
^Xitelligence. Revelation is not wholly silent. There is joy 
*2P« the angels of Heaven over one sinner that repenteth ; and 
sanely this joy is not incommunicable to souls disentangled 
from the body, and made like angels. 

Let hope therefore dictate, what revelation does not con- 
ftite^ that the union of souls may still remain ; and that we 
^•lio are struggling with sin, sorrow, and infirmities, may 
'^ve our part in the attention and kindness of those who have 
fiiiished tlieir course, and are now receiving their reward. 

These are the great occasions which force the mind to 
*^ie lefiige in religion : when we have no help in ourselves, 
^^lat can remain but that we look up to a higher and a 
Power? and to what hope may we not raise our 
and hearts, when we consider that the greatest Power 

tiie BEST? 

Surely there is no man who, thus afflicted, does not seek 

in the Gospel^ which has brought life and immortality 

Ught. The precepts of Epicurus, who teaches us to 

^*idme what the laws of the universe make necessary, may 

sil€aoe but not content us. The dictates of Zeno, who 

^*3fminands us to look with indifference on external things, 

''^dispose us to conceal our sorrow, but cannot assuage 


it. Real alleviation of the loss of friends, and rational 
tranquillity in the prospect of our own dissolution, can be 
received only from the promises of Him in whose hands are 
life and death, and from the assurance of another and 
better state, in which all tears will be wiped from the eyes, 
and the whole soul shall be filled with joy. Philosophy may 
infuse stubbornness, but ReUgion only can give patience. 

I am, &c.* 

Saturday y February lo, 1759. 

n^HE natmal advantages which arise from the position 
■^ of the earth which we inhabit with respect to 
the other planets, afford much employment to mathe- 
matical speculation ; by which it has been discovered, that 
no other conformation of the system could have given such 
commodious distributions of light and heat, or imparted fer- 
tility and pleasure to so great a part of a revolving sphere. 

It may be perhaps observed by the moralist, with equal 
reason, that our globe seems particularly fitted for the 
residence of a being, placed here only for a short time, 
whose task is to advance himself to a higher and happi 
state of existence, by unremitted vigilance of caution, ani 
activity of virtue. 

The duties required of man are such as hmnan natUK-^ 
does not willingly perform, and such as those are incline*/ 
to delay who yet intend some time to fulfil them. It wns 
therefore necessary that this universal reluctance should be 

* This paper was written by Dr. Johnson on the death of his motber. 
He wrote '* Rasselas " in order to defray the expenses of her fimenl^ 
and to pay a few small debts she left. 


counteracted, and the drowsiness of hesitation wakened into 
resolve ; that the danger of procrastination should be always 
in view, and the fallacies of security be hourly detected. 

To this end all the appearances of nature uniformly 
conspire. Whatever we see on every side reminds us of 
the lapse of time and the flux of life. The day and night 
succeed each other, the rotation of seasons diversifies the 
jrear ; the sun rises, attains the meridian, decUnes, and sets ; 
and the moon every night changes its form. 

The day has been considered as an image of the year, 
and the year as the representation of life. The morning 
answers to the spring, and the spring to childhood and 
youth; the noon corresponds to the summer, and the 
summer to the strength of manhood. The evening is an 
emblem of autumn, and autumn of declining life. The 
Qight with its silence and darkness shows the winter, in 
>^liich all the powers of vegetation are benumbed ; and the 
Winter points out the time when life shall cease, with its 
bopes and pleasures. 

He that is carried forward, however swiftly, by a motion 
Suable and easy, perceives not the change of place but by 
Ae variation of objects. If the wheel of life, which rolls 
thus silently along, passed on through undistinguishable 
uniformity, we should never mark its approaches to the end 
af the course. If one hour were like another; if the 
passage of the sim did not shew that the day is wasting ; if 
the change of seasons did not impress upon us the flight of 
he year; quantities of duration equal to days and years 
i^ould glide unobserved. If the parts of time were not 
variously coloured, we should never discern their departure 
}r succession, but should live thoughtless of the past, and 
:aieless of the future, without will, and perhaps without 
xmer, to compute the periods of Ufe, or to compare the 


time which is already lost with that which may probabl; 

But the course of time is so visibly marked, that it 
observed even by the birds of passage, and by nations w 
have raised their minds very httle above animal instino. 
there are human beings whose language does not suppr^j^ 
them with words by which they can number five ; but I h^.^^ 
read of none that have not names for day and night, for 
summer and winter. 

Yet it is certain that these admonitions of nature, Ixott- 
ever forcible, however importunate, are too often vain ; and 
that many who mark with such acccuracy the course of time^ 
appear to have little sensibility of the decline of liffe- 
Every man has something to do which he neglects ; every 
man has faults to conquer which he delays to combat 

So little do we accustom ourselves to consider the eflfect** 
of time, that things necessary and certain, often surprise 
like unexpected contingencies. We leave the beauty in 
bloom, and, after an absence of twenty years, wonder, 
our return, to find her faded We meet those whomw 
left children, and can scarcely persuade ourselves to trc^^"* 
them as men. The traveller visits in age those countri^^^ 
through which he rambled in his youth, and hopes 
merriment at the old place. The man of business, weari< 
with unsatisfactory prosperity, retires to the town of l^is 
nativity, and expects to play away the last years with tt»* 
companions of his childhood, and recover youth in tli* 
fields where he once was young. 

From this inattention, so general and so mischievous^ W 
it be every man's study to exempt himself. Let him th»t 
desires to see others happy make haste to give while hi^ 
gift can be enjoyed, and remember that every moment rf 
delay takes something firom the value of his bene&ctioa 




•^d let him who purposes his own happiness reflect, that 
'^Hile he forms his purpose the day rolls on, and the nighi 
^^^^th when no man can work, * 

Saturday, March 10, 1759. 

To THE Idler. 

Mr. Idler, 

J* AM the unfortunate wife of a city wit, and cannot but 
"^ think that my case may deserve equal compassion 
^^ith any of those which have been represented in your 

I married my husband within three months after the 

^3tpiration of his apprenticeship ; we put our money 

^^igether, and furnished a large and splendid shop, in which 

*^c was for five years and a half diligent and civil. The 

"^ictice which curiosity or kindness commonly bestows on 

l>€ginners, was continued by confidence and esteem; one 

^^ustomer, pleased with his treatment and his bargain, 

Recommended another; and we were busy behind the 

counter from morning to night 

Thus every day increased our wealth and our reputation. 
Wy husband was often invited to dinner openly on the 
Exchange by hundred thousand pounds men : and when- 
^er I went to any of the halls, the wives of the aldermen 
''^e me low courtesies. We always took up our notes 
^ore the day, and made all considerable payments by 
. 1 Oughts upon our banker. 

'\ Vou will easily believe that I was well enough pleased 
^th my condition ; for what happiness can be greater than 

* Note XXXI. , Appendix. 


that of growing every day richer and richer? \ will n 
deny that, imagining myself likely to be in a short time 
sheriffs lady, I broke ofif my acquaintance with some 
my neighbours; and advised my husband to keep 
company, and not to be seen with men that were wo: 

In time he found that ale agreed with his constituti 
and went every night to drink his pint at a tavern, where^ /, 
met with a set of critics, who disputed upon the merit: o\ 
the different theatrical performers. By these idle felLoi^ 
he was taken to the play, which at first he did not s^jejji 
much to heed; for he owned, that he very seldom Icneir 
what they were doing, and that, while his companioiis 
would let him alone, he was commonly thinking on his hslt 

Having once gone, however, he went again and again, 
though I often told him that three shillings were thrown 
away : at last he grew uneasy if he missed a night, and 
importuned me to go with him. I went to a tragedy which 
they called Macbeth ; and, when I came home, told him 
that I could not bear to see men and women make thena- 
selves such fools, by pretending to be witches and ghosts, 
generals and kings, and to walk in their sleep when they 
were as much awake as those who looked at them. H^ 
told me that I must get higher notions, and that a play was 
the most rational of all entertainments, and most proper to 
relax the mind after the business of the day. 

By degrees he gained knowledge of some of the player? 
and, when the play was over, very frequently treated the' 
with suppers ; for which he was admitted to stand bebu 
the scenes. 

He soon began to lose some of his morning hours in 
same folly, and was for one winter very diligent in 


attendance on the rehearsals ; but of this species of idleness 
^^ grew weary, and said that the play was nothing without 
^6 company. 

His ardour for the diversion of the evening increased ; 
^ bought a sword, and paid five shillings a night to 

• in the boxes; he went sometimes into a place which 

• calls the Green-room, where all the wits of the age 
5emble ; and, when he had been there, could do nothing 
' two or three days, but repeat their jests, or tell their 

He has now lost his regard for every thing but the play- 
use; he invites, three times a week, one or other to 
nk claret, and talk of the drama. His first care in the 
)ming is to read the play-bills ; and, if he remembers any 
es of the tragedy which is to be represented, walks about 

• shop repeating them so loud, and with such strange 
stures, that the passengers gather round the door. 

His greatest pleasure when I married him was to hear 
5 situation of his shop commended, and to be told how 
uiy estates have been got in it by the same trade ; but of 
e he grows peevish at any mention of business, and 
:lights in nothing so much as to be told that he speaks 
:e Mossop. 

Among his new associates he has learned another 
tiguage, and speaks in such a strain that the neighbours 
nnot understand him. If a customer talks longer than 
i is willing to hear, he will complain that he has been 
cruciated with unmeaning verbosity; he laughs at the 
ters of his friends for their tameness of expression, and 
en declares himself weary of attending to the minuiuB of 

It is well for me that I know how to keep a book, for of 
e he is scarcely ever in the way. Since one of his friends 


told him that he had a genius for tragick poetry, he ha^ 
locked himself in an upper room six or seven hours a day 
and when I carry him any paper to be read or signed, 
hear him talking vehemently to himself, sometimes of lox? 
and beauty, sometimes of friendship and virtue, but mc^j- 
frequently of liberty and his country. 

I would gladly, Mr. Idler, be informed what to think of a 
shopkeeper who is incessantly talking about liberty ; a word 
which, since his acquaintance with polite life, my husband 
has always in his mouth : he is on all occasions afraid oi 
our liberty. What can the man mean ? I am sure he has 
Hberty enough : it were better for him and me if his liberty 
was lessened. 

He has a friend, whom he calls a critick, that comes 
twice a week to read what he is writing. This critick tells 
him that his piece is a little irregular, but that some 
detached scenes will shine prodigiously, and that in the 
character of Bombulus he is wonderfully great My 
scribbler then squeezes his hand, calls him the best of 
friends, thanks him for his sincerity, and tells him that he 
hates to be flattered I have reason to believe that he 
seldom parts with his dear friend without lending him two 
guineas, and I am afraid that he gave bail for him three 
days ago. 

By this course of life our credit as traders is lessened; 
and I cannot forbear to reflect, that my husband's honour 
as a wit is not much advanced, for he seems to be always 
the lowest of the company, and is afraid to tell his opinion 
till the rest have spoken. When he was behind his 
counter, he used to be brisk, active, and jocular, like a man 
that knew what he was doing, and did not fear to look 
another in the face ; but, among wits and criticks, he is 
timorous and awkward, and hangs down his head at his 


own table. Dear Mr. Idler, persuade him, if you can, to 
'ctom once more to his native element Tell him that his 
wit will never make him rich, but that there are places 
where riches will always make a wit. 

T am. Sir, etc., 

Deborah Ginger. 

Saturday^ June 9, 1759. 

pRITICISM is a study by which men grow important 
and formidable at a very small expense. The power 
f invention has been conferred by nature upon few, and 
Je labour of learning those sciences which may by mere 
bour be obtained is too great to be willingly endured ; 
iit every man can exert such judgment as he has upon the 
orks of others ; and he whom nature has made weak, and 
leness keeps ignorant, may yet support his vanity by the 
une of a CriticL 

I hope it will give comfort to great numbers who are 
issing through the world in obscurity, when I inform them 
)w easily distinction may be obtained. All the other 
)wers of literature are coy and haughty, they must be 
ng courted, and at last are not always gained; but 
iticism is a goddess easy of access and forward of 
Ivance, who will meet the slow, and encourage the 
aorous; the want of meaning she supplies with words, 
id the want of spirit she recompenses with malignity. 
This profession has one recommendation peculiar to 
elf^ that it gives vent to malignity without real mischief. 


No genius was ever blasted by the breath of criticks.* T 
poison which, if confined, would have burst the hea 
fumes away in empty isses, and malice is set at ease w: 
very little danger to merit The Critick is the only m 
whose triumph is without another's pain, and whc 
greatness does not rise upon another's ruin. 

To a study at once so easy and so reputable, so malicio 
and so harmless, it cannot be necessary to invite my reade 
by a long or laboured exhortation ; it is sufficient, since a 
would be Criticks if they could, to shew by one eminer 
example that all can be Criticks if they will. 

Dick Minim, after the common course of puerile studies 
in which he was no great proficient, was put apprentice to i 
brewer, with whom he had lived two years, when his und 
died in the city, and left him a large fortune in the stocb 
Dick had for six months before used the company of tb 
lower players, of whom he had learned to scorn a trade 
and, being now at liberty to follow his genius, he resolvei 
to be a man of wit and humour. That he might be pro 
perly initiated in his new character, he frequented th( 
coffee-houses near the theatres, where he listened ver] 
diligently, day after day, to those who talked of languag< 
and sentiments, and unities and catastrophes, till, by slofl 
degrees, he began to think that he understood something o 
the stage, and hoped in time to talk himself. 

But he did not trust so much to natural sagacity a^ 
wholly to neglect the help of books. When the theatre 
were shut, he retired to Richmond with a few select writers, 
whose opinions he impressed upon his memory by un- 
wearied diligence; and, when he returned with other wits 
to the town, was able to tell, in very proper phrases, that 

* Note XXXil., Appeadlx. 


die chief business of art is to copy nature ; that a perfect 
ivnter is not to be expected, because genius decays as judg- 
ment increases ; that the great art is the art of blotting ; 
and that, according to the rule of Horace, every piece 
should be kept nine years. 

Of the great authors he now began to display the 
diaracters, laying down as an universal position, that all had 
beauties and defects. His opinion was, that Shakespeare, 
committing himself wholly to the impulse of nature, wanted 
that correctness which learning would have given him ; and 
that Jonson, trusting to learning, did not sufficiently cast 
his eyes on nature. He blamed the stanzas of Spenser, 
and could not bear the hexameters of Sidney. Denham and 
Waller he held the first reformers of English numbers ; and 
thought that if Waller could have obtained the strength of 
Denham, or Denham the sweetness of « Waller, there had 
been nothing wanting to complete a poet He often 
expressed his commiseration of Dryden's poverty, and his 
indignation at the age which suffered him to write for 
bread; he repeated with rapture the first lines of All for 
Love, but wondered at the corruption of taste which could 
bear anything so unnatural as rhyming tragedies. In 
Otway he foimd uncommon powers of moving the passions, 
but was disgusted by his general negligence, and blamed 
him for making a conspirator his hero; and never con- 
cluded his disquisition, without remarking how happily the 
sound of the clock is made to alarm the audience. 
Southern would have been his favourite, but that he mixes 
comick with tragick scenes, intercepts the natural course of 
the passions, and fills the mind with a wild confusion ol 
mirth and melancholy. The versification of Rowe he 
thought too melodious for the stage, and too httle varied in 
different passions. He made it the great fault of Congreve^ 


that all his persons were wits, and that he alwajrs wrote 
with more art than nature. He considered Cato rather as 
a poem than play, and allowed Addison to be the complete 
master of allegory and grave humour, but paid no great 
deference to him as a critick. He thought the chief merit 
of Prior was in his easy tales and lighter poems, though he 
allowed that his Solomon had many noble sentiments 
elegantly expressed. In Swift he discovered an inimitable 
vein of irony, and an easiness which all would hope and few 
would attain. Pope he was inclined to degrade from a 
poet to a versifier, and thought his numbers rather luscious 
than sweet. He often lamented the neglect of Phaedra 
and Hippolitus, and wished to see the stage under better 

These assertions passed commonly uncontradicted ; and 
if now and then an opponent started up, he was quickly 
repressed by the suffrages of the company, and Minim 
went away from every dispute with elation of heart and 
increase of confidence. 

He now grew conscious of his abilities, and b^an to 
talk of the present state of dramatick poetry; wondered 
what had become of the comick genius which suppUed 
our ancestors with wit and pleasantry, and why no writer 
could be found that durst now venture beyond a farce 
He saw no reason for thinking that the vein of humour 
was exhausted, since we live in a country where Uberty 
suffers every character to spread itself to its utmost bulk, 
and which therefore produces more originals than all the 
rest of the world together. Of tragedy he concluded 
business to be the soul, and yet often hinted that love 
predominates too much upon the modem stage. 

He was now an acknowledged critick, and had his 
own seat in a coffee-house, and headed a party in the 


pit Minim has more vanity than ill-nature, and seldom 
desires to do much mischief; he will perhaps murmur 
a little in the ear of him that sits next him, but endeavours 
to influence the audience to &vour, by clapping when 
an actor exclaims, " Ye gods 1 " or laments the misery of 
his country. 

By degrees he was admitted to rehearsals; and many 

of his friends are of opinion, that our present poets are 
indebted to him for their happiest thoughts : by his 
contrivance the bell was wrung twice in Barbarossa, and 
by his persuasion the author of Cleone concluded his 
play without a couplet; for what can be more absurd, 
said Minim, than that part of a play should be ryhmed, 
and part written in blank verse ? and by what acquisition 
of faculties is the speaker, who never could find rhymes 
before, enabled to rhyme at the conclusion of an act ? 

He is the great investigator of hidden beauties, and 
b particularly delighted when he finds "the sound an 
echo to the sense." He has read all our poets with par- 
ticular attention to this delicacy of versification, and 
wonders at the supineness with which their works have 
been hitherto perused, so that no man has found the sound 
of a drum in this distich : 

** When pulpit, drum ecclesiastick, 
Was beat with fist instead of a stick ; " 

and that the wonderful lines upon honour and a bubble 
have hitherto passed without notice : 

** Honour is like the glossy bubble, 
Which cost philosophers such trouble ; 
Where, one part crack'd, the whole does fly. 
And wits are crack'd to find out why.'* 

In these verses, says Minim, we have two striking 


accommodations of the sound to the sense. It is impos- 
sible to utter the first two lines emphatically without an 
act like that which they describe; bubbk and trouble 
causing a momentary inflation of the cheeks by the 
retention of the breath, which is afterwards forcibly 
emitted, as in the practice of blowing bubbles. But the 
greatest excellence is in the third line, which is cracl^d 
in the middle to express a crack, and then shivers into 
monosyllables. Yet has this diamond lain neglected with 
common stones, and among the innumerable admirers of 
Hudibras, the observation of this superlative passage has 
been reserved for the sagacity of Minim. 

Saturday ^ June 15, 1759. 

]V/r R. MINIM had now advanced himself to the zenith of 
'''"'■ critical reputation; when he was in the pit, every 
eye in the boxes was fixed upon him : when he entered his 
coffee-house, he was surrounded by circles of candidates, 
who passed their noviciate of literature under his tuition : 
his opinion was asked by all who had no opinion of their 
own, and yet loved to debate and decide ; and no composi- 
tion was supposed to pass in safety to posterity, till it had 
been secured by Minim's approbation. 

Minim professes great admiration of the wisdom and 
munificence by which the academies of the continent were 
raised; and often wishes for some standard of taste, for 
some tribunal, to which merit may appeal from caprice, 
prejudice, and malignity. He has formed a plan for an 
academy of criticism, where every work of imagination may 
be read before it is printed and which shall authoritatively 


direct the theatres what pieces to receive or reject, to 
exclude or to revive. 

Such an institution would, in Dick's opinion, spread the 
fame of English literature over Europe, and make London 
the metropolis of elegance and politeness, the place to 
which the learned and ingenious of all coimtries would 
repair for instruction and improvement, and where nothing 
would any longer be applauded or endured that was not 
conformed to the nicest rules, and finished with the highest 

Till some happy conjunction of the planets shall dispose 
our princes or ministers to make themselves immortal by 
such an academy. Minim contents himself to preside four 
nights in a week in a critical society selected by himself, whiere 
he is heard without contradiction, and whence his judgment 
is disseminated through the great vulgar and the small. 

When he is placed in the chair of criticism, he declares 
loudly for the noble simplicity of our ancestors, in opposition 
to the petty refinements and ornamental luxuriance. Some- 
times he is sunk in despair, and perceives false delicacy daily 
gaining ground, and sometimes brightens his countenance 
with a gleam of hope, and predicts the revival of the true 
sublime. He then fulminates his loudest censures against 
the monkish barbarity of rhyme ; wonders how beings that 
pretend to reason can be pleased with one line always 
ending hke another; tells how unjustly and unnaturally 
sense is sacrificed to sound ; how often the best thoughts 
are mangled by the necessity of confining or extending them 
to the dimensions of a couplet ; and rejoices that genius has, 
in our days, shaken off the shackles which had encumbered 
it so long. Yet he allows that rhyme may sometimes 
be borne, if the lines be often broken, and the pauses 
judiciously diversified. 


From blank verse he makes an easy transition to Milton, 
whom he produces as an example of the slow advance of 
lasting reputation. Milton is the only writer in whose 
books Minim can read for ever without weariness. What 
cause it is that exempts this pleasure from satiety he has 
long and diligently inquired, and believes it to consist in the 
perpetual variation of the numbers, by which the ear is 
gratified and the attention awakened. The lines that are 
commonly thought rugged and unmusical, he conceives to 
have been written to temper the melodious luxury of the 
rest, or to express things by a proper cadence: for he 
scarcely finds a verse that has not this favourite beauty \ he 
declares that he could shiver in a hot-house when he reads 

** the ground 
Bums frore, and cold performs th' effect of fire ; " 

and that, when Milton bewails his blindness, the verse, 

'' So thick a drop serene has quenched these orbs/ 

has, he knows not how, something that strikes him with an 
obscure sensation like that which he fancies would be felt 
from the sound of darkness. 

Minim is not so confident of his rules of judgment as not 
very eagerly to catch new light from the name of the author. 
He is commonly so prudent as to spare those whom he 
cannot resist, unless, as will sometimes happen, he finds the 
publick combined against them. But a fresh pretender to 
fame he is strongly inclined to censure, till his own honour 
requires that he commend him. Till he knows the success 
of a composition, he intrenches himself in general terms; 
there are some new thoughts and beautiful passages, but 


there is likewise much which he would have advised the 
author to expunge. He has several favourite epithets, of 
which he never settled the meaning, but which are very 
commodiously applied to books which he has not read, or 
cannot understand. One is manly^ another is dty^ another 
stiffs and another ^/iwjry/ sometimes he discovers delicacy 
of style, and sometimes meets with strange expressions. 

He is never so great, nor so happy, as when a youth of 
promising parts is brought to receive his directions for the 
prosecution of his studies. He then puts on a very serious 
air; he advises the pupil to read none but the best authors, 
and, when he finds one congenial to his own mind, to study 
his beauties, but avoid his faults ; and, when he sits down 
to write, to consider how his favourite author would think 
at the present time on the present occasion. He exhorts 
him to catch those moments when he finds his thoughts 
expanded and his genius exalted, but to take care lest 
imagination hurry him beyond the bounds of nature. He 
holds diligence the mother of success; yet enjoins him, 
with great earnestness, not to read more than he can digest, 
and not to confuse his mind by pursuing studies of contrary 
tendencies. He tells him, that every man has his genius, 
and that Cicero could never be a poet. The boy retires 
illuminated, resolves to follow his genius, and to think how 
Milton would have thought: and Minim feasts upon his 
own beneficence till another day brings another pupil. 


Saturday, August 25, 1759. 

T^ICK SHIFTER was bora in Cheapside, and, having 
passed reputably through all the classes of St Paul's 
school, has been for some years a student in the Temple. 
He is of opinion, that intense application dulls the faculties, 
and thinks it necessary to temper the severity of the law by 
books that engage the mind, but do not fatigue it. He has 
therefore made a copious collection of plays, poems, and 
romances, to which he has recourse when he fancies 
himself tired with statutes and reports; and he seldom 
inquires very nicely whether he is weary or idle. 

Dick has received from his favourite authors very strong 
impressions of a country life ; and though his furthest 
excursions have been to Greenwich on one side, and 
Chelsea on the other, he has talked for several years, with 
great pomp of language and elevation of sentiments, about 
a state too high for contempt and too low for envy, about 
homely quiet and blameless simplicity, pastoral delights 
and rural innocence. 

His friends who had estates in the country, often invited 
him to pass the summer among them, but something or 
other had always hindered him ; and he considered, that to 
reside in the house of another man was to incur a kind of 
dependence inconsistent with that laxity of life which he had 
imaged as the chief good. 

This summer he resolved to be happy, and procured a 
lodging to be taken for him at a solitary house, situated 
about thirty miles from London, on the banks of a small 
river, with corn-fields before it, and a hill on each side 


covered with wood. He concealed the place of his retire- 
ment, that none might violate his obscurity ; and promised 
himself many a happy day when he should hide himself 
among the trees, and contemplate the tumults and vexations 
of the town. 

He stepped into the post-chaise with his heart beating 
and his eyes sparkling, was conveyed through many varieties 
of delightful prospects, saw hills and meadows, corn-fields 
and pasture, succeed each other, and for four hours charged 
none of his poets with fiction or exaggeration. He was now 
within six miles of happiness ; when, having never felt so 
much agitation before, he began to wish his journey at an 
end, and the last hour was passed in changing his posture, 
and quarrelling with his driver. 

An hour may be tedious, but cannot be long. He at 
length alighted at his new dwelling, and was received as he 
expected ; he looked round upon the hills and rivulets, but 
his joints were stiff and his muscles sore, and his first 
request was to see his bed-chamber. 

He rested well, and ascribed the soundness of his sleep to 
the stillness of the country. He expected from that time 
nothing but nights of quiet and days of rapture, and, as 
soon as he had risen, wrote an account of his new state to 
one of his friends in the Temple. 

** Dear Frank, 
" I never pitied thee before. I am now as I could wish 
every man of wisdom and virtue to be, in the regions of calm 
content and placid meditation; with all the beauties of 
nature soliciting my notice, and all the diversities of pleasure 
courting my acceptance; the birds are chirping in the 
hedges, and the flowers blooming in the mead ; the breeze 
is ^istling in the wood, and the sun dancing on the water. 


I can now say, with truth, that a man, capable of enjoying 
the purity of happiness, is never more busy than in his 
hours of leisure, nor ever less solitary than in a place of 

" I am, dear Frank, etc." 

When he had sent away his letter, he walked into the 
wood with some inconvenience, from the furze that pricked 
his legs, and the briers that scratched his face. He at last 
sat down under a tree, and heard with' great delight a 
shower, by which he was now wet, rattling among the 
branches: This, said he, is the true image of obscurity; 
we hear of troubles and commotions, but never feel them. 

His amusement did not overpower the calls of nature, and 
he therefore went back to order his dinner. He knew that 
the country produces whatever is eaten or drunk, and, 
imagining that he was now at the source ol luxury, resolved 
to indulge himself with dainties which he supposed might 
be procured at a price next to nothing, if any price at all 
was expected ; and intended to amaze the rusticks with his 
generosity, by paying more than they would ask. Of twenty 
dishes which he named, he was amazed to find that scarcely 
one was to be had ; and heard, with astonishment and 
indignation, that all the fruits of the earth were sold at a 
higher price than in the streets of London. 

His meal was short and sullen ; and he retired again to 
his tree, to inquire how dearness could be consistent with 
abundance, or how fraud could be practised by simplicity. 
He was not satisfied with his own speculations, and, 
returning home early in the evening, went a while from 
window to window, and found that he wanted something 
to do. 

He inquired for a newspaper, and was told that farmers 
never minded news, but that they could send for it from th« 


ale-house. A messenger was dispatched, who ran away at 
foil speed, but loitered an hour behind the hedges, and at 
last coming back with his feet purposely bemired, instead of 
expressing the gratitude which Mr. Shifter expected for the 
bounty of a shilling, said, that the night was wet, and the 
way dirty, and he hoped that his worship would not think it 
much to give him half a crown. 

Dick now went to bed with some abatement of his 
expectations ; but sleep, I know not how, revives our hopes, 
and rekindles our desires. He rose early in the morning, 
surveyed the landscape, and was pleased. He walked out, 
and passed from field to field, without observing any beaten 
path, and wondered that he had not seen the shepherdesses 
dancing, nor heard the swains piping to their fiocks. 

At last he saw some reapers and harvest-women at dinner. 
Here, said he, are the true Arcadians, and advanced 
courteously towards them, as afraid of confusing them by 
the dignity of his presence. They acknowledged his 
superiority by no other token than that of asking him for 
something to drink. He imagined that he had now piur- 
chased the privilege of discourse, and began to descend to 
familiar questions, endeavouring to accommodate his 
discourse to the grossness of rustick understandings. The 
clowns soon found that he did not know wheat from rye, 
and began to despise him ; one of the boys, by pretending 
to shew him a bird's nest, decoyed him into a ditch ; and 
one of the wenches sold him a bargain. 

This walk had given him no great pleasiure ; but he hoped 

to find other rusticks less coarse of manners, and less 

mischievous of disposition. Next morning he was accosted 

by an attorney, who told him that, unless he made farmer 

Dobson satisfaction for trampling his grass, he had orders 

to indict him. Shifter was offended, but not terrified ; and, 



telling the attorney that he was himself a lawyer, talked so 
volubly. of pettyfoggers and barraters, that he drove him 

Finding his walks thus interrupted, he was inclined to 
ride, and, being pleased with the appearance of a horse that 
was grazing in a neighbouring meadow, inquired the owner ; 
who warranted him sound, and would not sell him but that 
he was too fine for a plain man. Dick paid down the price, 
and, riding out to enjoy the evening, fell with his new horse 
into a ditch; they got out with difficulty, and, as he was 
going to mount again, a countryman looked at the horse, 
and perceived him to be blind. Dick went to the seller, 
and demanded back his money ; but was told, that a man 
who rented his ground must do the best for himself; that 
his landlord had his rent though the year was barren ; and 
that, whether horses had eyes or no, he should sell them to 
the highest bidder. 

Shifter now began to be tired with rustick simplicity, and 
on the fifth day took possession again of his chambers, and 
bade farewel to the regions of calm content and placid, 

Saturday, October 13, 1759. 

T HAVE passed the summer in one of these places to 
-^ which a mineral spring gives the idle and luxurious an 
annual reason for resorting, whenever they fancy themselves 
offended by the heat of London. What is the true motive 
of this periodical assembly, I have never yet been able 
to discover. The greater part of the visitants neither feci 


diseases nor fear them. What pleasure can be expected 
more than the variety of the journey, I know not ; for the 
numbers are too great for privacy, and too small for 
diversion. As each is known to be a spy upon the rest, 
they all live in continual restraint ; and having but a narrow 
range for censure, they gratify its cravings by preying on 
one another. 

But every condition has some advantages. In this con- 
finement, a smaller circle affords opportunities for more 
exact observation. The glass that magnifies its object 
cxjntracts the sight to a point ; and the mind must be fixed 
upon a single character to remark its minute peculiarities. 
The quality or habit which passes unobserved in the tumult 
of successive multitudes, becomes conspicuous when it is 
offered to the notice day after day ; and perhaps I have, 
without any distinct notice, seen thousands like my late 
companions ; for, when the scene can be varied at pleasure, 
a slight disgust turns us aside before a deep impression can 
be made upon the mind. 

There was a select set, supposed to be distinguished 
by superiority of intellects, who always passed the evening 
together. To be admitted to their conversation was the 
highest honour of the place; many youths inspired to 
distinction, by pretending to occasional invitations ; and the 
ladies were often wishing to be men, that they might par- 
take the pleasures of learned society. 

I know not whether by merit or destiny, I was, soon after 
iny arrival, admitted to this envied party, which I frequented 
till I had learned the art by which each endeavoured to 
support his character. 

Tom Steady was a vehement assertor of uncontroverted 
truth ; and, by keeping himself out of the reach of con- 
tradiction, had acquired all the confidence which the 




. of inesistible abilities could have given. 1 
was once mentioning a man of eminence, and, after having 
recounted tiis virtues, endeavoured to represent him fully, 
by mentioning his faults. " Sir," said Mr. Steady, " that he 
has faults I can easily believe, for who is without them ? 
No man, sir, is now alive, among the innumerable multi- 
tudes that swarm upon the earth, however wise or however 
good, who has not, in some degree, his failings and his 
faults. If there be any man faultless, bring him forth into 
pubh'c view, show him openly, and let him be known ; but 
I will venture to afSrm, and, till the contrary be plainly 
shown, shall always maintain, that no such man is to be 
found. Tell not me, sir, of impcccabihty and perfection; 
such talk is for those that are strangers in the world. I 
have seen several nations, and conversed with all ranks of 
people; I have known the great and the mean, the learned 
and the ignorant, the old and the young, the clerical and 
the lay ; but I have never found a man without a fault ; and 
I suppose shall die in the opinion, that to be human is to 
be frail." 

To all this nothing could be opposed, I listened with 2 
hanging head, Mr. Steady looked round on the hearers 
with triumph, and saw every eye congratulating his victory. 
He departed, and spent the next morning in following 
those who retired from the company, and telling them, 
vrith injunctions of secrecy, how poor Spritely began to take 
liberties with men wiser than himself; but that he sup- 
pressed him by a decisive argument, which put him totally 
to silence. 

Dick Snug is a man of sly remark and pithy sententious- 
ness : he never immerges himself in the stream of conversa- 
tion, but lies to catch his companions in the eddy : he Is 
oAen very successful in breaking narratives and confounding 


eloquence. A gentleman giving the history of one of his 
acquaintance, made mention of a lady that had many 
lovers: "Then," said Dick, "she was either handsome or 
rich." This observation being well received, Dick watched 
the progress of the tale; and hearing of a man lost in a 
shipwreck, remarked, " that no man was ever drowned upon 
dry land." 

Will Startle is a man of exquisite sensibility, whose 
delicacy of frame and quickness of discernment subject him 
to impressions from the slightest causes ; and who therefore 
passes his life between rapture and horrour, in quiverings of 
delight, or convulsions of disgust. His emotions are too 
violent for many words ; his thoughts are always discovered 
by exclamations, Vile^ odious^ horridy detestable^ and sweety 
charming^ delighijul, astonishing, compose almost his whole 
vocabulary, which he utters with various contortions and 
gesticulations not easily related or described. 

Jack Solid is a man of much reading, who utters nothing 
but quotations : but having been, I suppose, too confident 
of his memory, he has for some time neglected his books, 
and his stock grows every day more scanty. Mr. Solid has 
found an opportunity every night to repeat, from Hudibras, 

" Doubtless the pleasure is as great 
Of being cheated, as to cheat ; " 

and from Waller, 

" Poets lose half the praise they would have got, 
Were it but known that they discreetly blot." 

Dick Misty is a man of deep research and forcible 
penetration. Others are content with superficial appear- 
ances ; but Dick holds, that there is no effect without a 
cause, and values himself upon his power of explaining the 


difficult and displaying the abstruse. Upon a dispute 
among us, which of two young strangers was more beauti- 
ful, "You," says Mr. Misty, turning to me, "like Amar- 
anthia better than Chloris. I do not wonder at the 
preference, for the cause is evident: there is in man a 
perception of harmony, and a sensibility of perfection, 
which touches the finer fibres of the mental texture ; and, 
before Reason can descend from her throne to pass her 
sentence upon the things compared, drives us towards the 
object proportioned to our faculties, by an impulse gentle 
yet irresistible \ for the harmonick system of the Universe, 
and the reciprocal magnetism of similar natures, are always 
operating towards conformity and union; nor can the 
powers of the soul cease from agitation, till they find 
something on which they can repose." To this nothing 

was opposed ; and Amaranthia was acknowledged to excel 


Of the rest you may expect an account from. 

Sir, yours, 

Robin Spritely. 

Saturday^ November 24, 1759. 

TDIOGRAPHY is, of the various kinds of narrati^ve 
^ writing, that which is most eagerly read, and most 
easily applied to the purposes of life.* 

In romances, when the wide field of possibility lies open 
to invention, the incidents may easily be made more 
numerous, the vicissitudes more sudden, and the Q-^tti^iS 

* Note XXXIII., Appendix. 


more wonderful: but from the time of life when fancy 
begins to be over-ruled by reason and corrected by 
experience, the most artful tale raises little curiosity when 
it is known to be false ; though it may, perhaps, be some- 
times read as a model of a neat or elegant style, nor for the 
sake of knowing what it contains, but how it is written ; or 
those that are weary of themselves may have recourse to it 
as a pleasing dream, of which, when they awake, they 
voluntarily dismiss the images from their minds. 

The examples and events of history press, indeed, upon 

the mind with the weight of truth; but when they are 

reposited in the memory, they are oftener employed for 

show than use, and rather diversify conversation than 

regulate life. Few are engaged in such scenes as give them 

opportunities of growing wiser by the downfall of statesmen 

or the defeat of generals. The stratagems of war, and the 

intrigues of courts, are read by far the greater part of 

ttiankind with the same indifference as the adventures of 

fe.bled heroes, or the revolutions of a fairy region. Between 

falsehood and useless truth there is little difference. As 

gold which he cannot spend will make no man rich, so 

knowledge which he cannot apply will make no man wise. 

The mischievous consequences of vice and folly, of 
^^Tegular desires and predominant passions, are best dis- 
covered by those relations which are levelled with the 
general surface of life, which tell not how any man became 
Si'eat, but how he was made happy; not how he lost the 
fevour of his prince, but how he became discontented with 

Those relations are therefore commonly of most value in 
^hich the writer tells his own story. He that recounts the 
*^e of another, commonly dwells most upon conspicuous 
^^^nts, lessens the familiarity of his tale to increase its 

328 . THE IDLER. 

dignity, shews his favourite at a distance, decorated ancL 
magnified like the ancient actors in their tragick dress, an(7 
endeavours to hide the man that he may produce a hero. 

But if it be true, which was said by a French prince, thtit 
no man was a hero to the servants of his chamber^ it is 
equally true, that every man is yet less a hero to himself 
He that is most elevated above the crowd by the import- 
ance of his employments, or the reputation of his genius, 
feels himself affected by fame or business but as they 
influence his domestick life. The high and low, as they 
have the same faculties and the same senses, have no less 
similitude in their pains and pleasures. The sensations are 
the same in all, though produced by very different 
occasions. The prince feels the same pain when an 
invader seizes a province, as the farmer when a thief drives 
away his cow. Men thus equal in themselves will appear 
equal in honest and impartial biography ; and those w! 
fortune or nature places at the greatest distance may 
instruction to each other. 

The writer of his own life has at least the first qualifi 
tion of an historian, the knowledge of the truth; an 
though it may be plausibly objected that his temptations 
disguise it are equal to his opportunities of knowing it, yet 
cannot but think that impartiality may be expected 
equal confidence from him that relates the passages of hm^i? 
own life, as from him that delivers the transactions of 

Certainty ot knowledge not only excludes mistake, \yut 
fortifies veracity. What we collect by conjecture, and by 
conjecture only can one man judge of another's motives 
or sentiments, is easily modified by fancy or by desire ; as 
objects imperfectly discerned take forms from the hope ot 
fear of the beholder. But that which is fully known cannot 

♦ Note XXXIV., Appendix. 


t>e falsified but with reluctance of understanding, and 
^.larra of conscience : of understanding, the lover of truth ; 
CDf conscience, the sentinel of virtue. 

He that writes the life of another is either his friend or 
Viis enemy, and wishes either to exalt his praise or aggravate 
^is infamy: many temptations to falsehood will occur in 
the disguise of passions, too specious to fear much resist- 
ance. Love of virtue will animate panegyrick, and hatred 
of wickedness embitter censure. The zeal of gratitude, the 
ardour of patriotism, fondness for an opinion, or fidelity to 
a party, may easily overpower the vigilance of a mind 
habitually well disposed, and prevail over unassisted and 
Unfriended veracity. 

But he that speaks of himself has no motive to falsehood 

Or partiality except self-love, by which all have so often 

been betrayed that all are on the watch against its artifices. 

lie that writes an apology for a single action, tp confute an 

5^ causation, to recommend himself to favour, is indeed 

always to be suspected of favouring his own cause ; but he 

that sits down camly and voluntarily to review his life for 

the admonition of posterity, or to amuse himself, and leaves 

this account unpublished, may be commonly presumed to 

tell truth, since falsehood cannot appease his own mind, 

and fame will not be heard beneath the tomb. 

Saturday, December i, 1759. 

/^NE of the pecularities which distinguish the present age 
^^ is the multiplication of books. Every day brings 
new advertisements of literary undertakings, and we are 


flattered with repeated promises of growing wise on easier 
terms than our progenitors. 

How much either happiness or knowledge is ad- 
vanced by this multitude of authors, is not very easy to 

He that teaches us any thing which we knew not before, 
is undoubtedly to be reverenced as a master. 

He that conveys knowledge by more pleasing ways, may 
very properly be loved as a benefactor ; and he that supplies 
life with innocent amusement, will be certainly caressed as 
a pleasing companion. 

But few of those who fill the world with books, have any 
pretensions to the hope either of pleasing or instructing. 
They have often no other task than to lay two books before 
them, out of which they compile a third, without any new 
materials of their own, and with very little application of 
judgment to those which former authors have supplied.* 

That all compilations are useless, I do not assert. 
Particles of science are often very widely scattered. Writers 
of extensive comprehension have incidental remarks upon , 
topicks very remote from the principal subject, which are^ 
often more valuable than, formal treatises, and which ye 
are not known because they are not promised in the title— 
He that collects those under proper heads is very laudabl 
employed; for though he exerts no great abilities in th 
work, he facilitates the progress of others, and, by makin= 
that easy of attainment which is already written, may giv^ ^ 
some mind, more vigorous or more adventurous than hi^ 
own, leisure for new thoughts and original designs. 

But the collections poured lately from the press have 
seldom made at any great expence of time or inquiry, an J 

* Note XXXV., Appendix. 


therefore only serve to distract choice without supplying any 
real want. 
^ It is observed that a corrupt society has many laws ; I 
know not whether it is not equally true, that an ignorant 
age has many books. When the treasures of ancient 
knowledge lie unexamined, and original authors are 
neglected and forgotten, compilers and plagiaries are en- 
couraged, who give us again what we had before, and grow 
great by setting before us what our own sloth had hidden 
from our view. 

Yet are not even these writers to be indiscriminately 

censured and rejected. Truth, like beauty, varies its 

^shions, and is best recommended by different dresses to 

different minds ; and he that recalls the attention of man- 

*^^nd to any part of learning which time has left behind it, 

'^ay be truly said to advance the literature of his own age. 

■^s th6 manners of nations vary, new topicks of persuasion 

^^come necessary, and new combinations of imagery are 

^^oduced ; and he that can accommodate himself to the 

^^igning taste, may always have readers who perhaps would 

^Ot have looked upon better performances. 

To exact of every man who writes that he should say 
Something new, would be to reduce authors to a small 
^Ximber ; to oblige the most fertile genius to say only what 
^^ new, would be to contract his volumes to a few pages, 
^et, surely, there ought to be some bounds to repetition ; 
libraries ought no more to be heaped for ever with the same 
thoughts differently expressed, than with the same books 
fiifferently decorated. 

The good or evil which these secondary writers produce 
is seldom of any long duration. As they owe their existence 
to change of fashion, they commonly disappear when a new 
fashion becomes prevalent The authors that in any nation 


last from age to age are very few, because there are very 
few that have any other claim to notice than that they catch 
hold on present curiosity, and gratify some accidental 
desire, or produce some temporary conveniency. 

But however the writers of the day may despair of future 
fame, they ought at least to forbear any present imschie£ 
Though they cannot arrive at eminent heights of excellence, 
they might keep themselves harmless. They might take 
care to inform themselves before they attempt to inform 
others, and exert the little influence which they have for 
honest purposes. 

But such is the present state of our literature, that the 
ancient sage, who thought a great book a great evil^ would 
now think the multitude of books a multitude of evils. H 
would consider a bulky writer who engrossed a year, an< 
a swarm of pamphleteers who stole each an hour, as 
wasters of human life, and would make no other difieren 
between them, than between a beast of prey and a flight 

Saturday^ December 22, 1759. 

T 17 HEN the philosophers of the last age were ^rst 
^ ^ congregated into the Royal Society, great expecta- 
tions were raised of the sudden progress of useful arts; 
the time was supposed to be near, when engines should 
turn by a perpetual motion, and health be secured 
by the universal medicine; when learning should be 
facilitated by a real character, and commerce extended 
by ships which could reach their ports in defiance of the 


But improvement is naturally slow. The Society met 

and parted without any visible diminution of the miseries of 

life. The gout and stone were still painful, the ground that 

was not ploughed brought no harvest, and neither oranges 

nor grapes would grow upon the hawthorn. At last, those 

who were disappointed began to be angry : those likewise 

who hated innovation were glad to gain an opportunity of 

ridiculing men who had depreciated, perhaps with too 

much arrogance, the knowledge of antiquity. And it 

appears from some of their earliest apologies, that the 

philosophers felt with great sensibility the unwelcome 

^^portunities of those who were daily asking, " What have 

redone?" * 

The truth is, that little had been done compared with 
'^hat fame had been suffered to promise ; and the question 
^ould only be answered by general apologies, and by 
*^^w hopes, which, when they were frustrated, gave a 
^ew occasion to the same vexatious inquiry. 

This fatal question has disturbed the quiet of many other 
Poinds. He that in the latter part of his life too strictly 
Squires what he has done, can very seldom receive from his 
^^ heart such an account as will give him satisfaction. 

We do not indeed so often disappoint others as ourselves. 
'^e not only think more highly than others of our own 
abilities, but allow ourselves to form hopes which we never 
^mmunicate, and please our thoughts with employments 
Which none ever will allot us, and with elevations to which 
We are never expected to rise; and when our days and 
years have passed away in common business or common 
amusements, and we find at last that we have suffered our 
purposes to sleep till the time of action is past, we are 
reproached only by our own reflections ; neither our friends 
nor our enemies wonder that we live and die like the rest of 










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ascertained a single moral proposition, or added one useful 
experiment to natural knowledge, may be contented with 
Ws own performance ; and, with respect to mortals like 
himself, may demand, like Augustus, to be dismissed at 
his departure with applause. 

Saturday, March 22, 1760. 

r^MAR, the son of Hussan, had passed seventy-five 

years in honour and prosperity. The favour of three 

^^ccessive califs had filled his house with gold and silver ; 

^d whenever he appeared, the benedictions of the people 

Proclaimed his passage. 

Terrestrial happiness is of short continuance. The 
^^ghtness of the flame is wasting its fuel; the fragrant 
**Q^er is passing away in its own odours. The vigour of 
^^ar began to fail, the curls of beauty fell from his head, 
^^ength departed from his hands, and agility from his feet 
*Ie gave back to the calif the keys of trust and the 
^^aJs of secrecy ; and sought no other pleasure for the 
^^mains of life than the converse of the wise, and the 
latitude of the good. 

The powers of his mind were yet unimpaired. His 
chamber was filled with visitants, eager to catch the 
dictates of experience, and officious to pay the tribute 
of admiration. Caled, the son of the viceroy of Egypt, 
entered every day early, and retired late. He was beautiful 
and eloquent; Omar admired his wit, and loved his docility. 
" Tell me," said Caled, " thou to whose voice nations have 
Ustened, and whose wisdom is known to the extremities 



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disturb my quiet with affairs of state. Such was my 
scheme of life, which I impressed indelibly upon my 

"The first part of my ensuing time was to be spent 
in search of knowledge; and I know not how I was 
diverted from my design. I had no visible impediments 
without, nor any ungovernable passions within. I regarded 
knowledge as the highest honour and the most engaging 
pleasure; yet day stole upon day, and month glided 
after month, till I found that seven years of the first ten 
had vanished, and left nothing behind them. I now 
postponed my purpose of travelling; for why should I 
go abroad while so much remained to be learned at home ? 
I immured myself for four years, and studied the laws 
of the empire. The fame of my skill reached the judges ; 
I was found able to speak upon doubtful questions, and 
w-as commanded to stand at the footstool of the calif. 
I was heard with attention, I was consulted with confidence, 
and the love of praise fastened on my heart. 

**I still wished to see distant countries, listened with 
rapture to the relations of travellers, and resolved some time 
to ask my dismission, that I might feast my soul with 
novelty; but my presence was always necessary, and the 
stream of business hurried me along. Sometimes I was 
afraid lest I should be charged with ingratitude ; but I still 
proposed to travel, and therefore would not confine myself 
by marriage. 

" In my fiftieth year I began to suspect that the time of 
travelling was past, and thought it best to lay hold on the 
felicity yet in my power, and indulge myself in domestick 
pleasures. But at fifty no man easily finds a woman 
beautiful as the Houries, and wise as Zobeide. I inquired 
and rejected, consulted and deliberated, till the sixty-second 



year made me ashamed of gazing upon girls. I had 
now nothing left but retirement, and for retirement I 
never found a time, till disease forced me from public 

"Such was my scheme, and such has been its conse- 
quence. With an insatiable thirst for knowledge I trifled 
away the years of improvement; with a restless desire of 
seeing different countries, I have always resided in the same 
city; with the highest expectation of connubial felicity, I 
have lived unmarried ; and with unalterable resolutions of 
contemplative retirement, I am going to die within the walls 
of Bagdat" 




X. (Page la)— "I mentioned Mallett's 'Elvira,* which had been 

?pt«d the preceding winter at Drury Lane, and that the Hon. Andrew 

^^^kine, Mr. Dempster, and myself, had joined in writing a pamphlet, 

^^ t:itled 'Critical Stricture,' against it. That the mildness of Dempster*s 

,^ ^position had, however, relented; and he had candidly said, * We 

^^ .^e hardly a right to abuse this tragedy ; for bad as it is, how vain 

^uld either of us be to write one not near so good.' Johnson, * Why 

, sir ; this is not just reasoning. You may abuse a tragedy, though 

u cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a 

d table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to 

ake tables." — Birkbeck Hill's BoswelVs Life ofjohnson^ voL i, 408. 

II. (Page 23.) — Matthew Prior (1641-1721), of whose poetry Dr. 
^ T>hnson speaks rather slightingly, had good reason to extol the Duke of 
"X^orset As a youth, Prior was employed by his uncle, who kept a 
*^hionable tavern at Charing Cross. The lad, who had been educated 
^t Westminster School under Dr. Busby, was, for his years, an accom- 
plished classical scholar. One day Lord Dorset and some other gentle- 
'^en fell into a dispute in the tavern over a passage in the Odes of Horace, 
Vhen one of the company exclaimed, ^' I find we are not like to agree in 
our criticisms ; but if I am not mistaken, there is a young fellow in the 
house who is able to set us all right. " Prior was accordingly summoned, 
and immediately solved the difficulty. Lord Dorset was so much 
impressed with the youth's ability and learning, that he sent him in 
1682 to St. John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1686, 
and was soon afterwards elected a Fellow. 


III. (Page 3a) — Exactly the opposite was the case with Dr. Johnson 
himself, the affluence, vigour, and wit of whose talk was phenomenal. 

IV. (Page 31.) — Johnson to Boswell :. ** All the complaints which are 
made of the world are unjust. I never knew a man of merit neglected ; 
it was generally by his own fault that he failed of success. . . . There 
is no reason why any person should exert himself for a man who has 
written a good book ; he has not written it for any individual." — HilFs 
Boswell, vol. iv., 172. 

V. (Page 75.) — "When I was running about this town a very poor 
fellow, I was a great arguer for the advantages of poverty; but I was, at 
the same time, very sorry to be poor. Sir, all the argruments which are 
brought to represent poverty as no evil, show it to be evidently a great 
evil. You never find people labouring to convince you that you may live 
very happily upon a plentiful fortune. So you hear people talking how 
miserable a king must be ; and yet they all wish to be in his place." — 
Dr. Johnson to Mr. Dempster, thirteen years later, 1763. — Hill's 
Boswell^ voL i., 441. 

VI. (Page 80.) — *'Dr. Johnson went home with me (1772) to my 
lodgings in Conduit Street and drank tea, previous to our going to the 
Pantheon, which neither of us had seen before. He said, * Goldsmith's 
Life of Pamell is poor ; not that it is poorly written, but that he had 
poor materials ; for nobody can write the life of a man but those who 
have ate and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him.'"— 
Hill's Boswelts Life^ vol. ii 16^. 

VII. (Page 83.) — Francis de Malherbe, French poet, 1555-1628. 

VIII. (Page 95.) — *'To let friendship die away by negligence and 
silence, is certainly not wise. It is voluntarily to throw away one of the 
greatest comforts of this weary pilgrimage, of which when it is, as it must 
be taken finally away, he that travels on alone, will wonder how his 
esteem could be so little. Do not forget me ; you see that I do not 
forget you. It is pleasing in the silence of solitude to think, that there 
is one at least, however distant, of whose benevolence there is little 
doubt, and whom there is yet hope of seeing again." — Dr. Johnsor 
(i^tat 79) writing to Captain Langton from Bolt Court, March 20 
1782. — Hill's Boswelly vol. iv., 145. 


*'*' He said to Sir Joshua Rejmolds, ' If a man does not make 
new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself 
left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair P^ 
— Hill's Boswellt vol. i., 300. 

IX. (Page 106.) — *' Johnson: ^ It is wonderful, sir, how rare a 
quality good-humour is in life. We meet with very few good- 
humoured men.' I mentioned four of our friends, none of whom he 
Would allow to be good-humoured. One was acidy another was mtiddy, 
and to the others he had objections, which have escaped me. Then, 
shaking his head, and stretching himself at ease in the coach, and 
smiling with much complacency, he turned to me, and said, * I look 
upon myself z& a good-humoured fellow.'" — Hill's Boswelly vol. ii., 

X. (Page 119.) — Alphonsus V., King of Arragon, sumamed the 
Magnanimous, 1384- 1458. A great patron of learning, and the most 
Accomplished sovereign of his time. 

XL (Page 138.) — " Yet think what ills the scholar's life assail. 

Pride, envy, want, the garret and the jail." 
Johnson's Imitations ofjuvenaly Tenth Satire. 

XII. (Page 143.) — Dr. Johnson's sly definition of Grub Street is worth 
Recalling in* this connection : — ** Grub Street, the name of a street in 

Xondon, much inhabited by writers of small histories, dictionaries^ and 
temporary poems, whence any mean production is called Grub Street." 

XIII. (Page 150.) — *' Sir, you know courage is reckoned the 
greatest of all virtues, because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no 
security for preserving any other." — Hill's Boswell^ vol. ii., 339. 

XIV. (Page 180.) — The allusion is, of course, to two of the labours 
of Hercules. Erymanthus, a mountain of Arcadia, where the hero 
captured alive an enormous boar, and in the forest around Nemea he 
choked the lion which ravaged the country around Mycenae. 

XV. (Page 181.) — ^When asked how he felt upon the ill success of his 
tragedy {Irene\ he replied — " Like the monument ; " meaning that he 
continued firm and unmoved as that column. And let it be remembered, 
as an admonition to the genus irritabile of dramatick writers, that this 


great man, instead of peevishly complaining of the bad trade of the 
town, submitted to the decision without a murmur. He had, indeed, 
upon all occasions, a great deference for the general opinion : "A man 
(said he) who writes a book, thinks himself wiser and wittier than the 
rest of mankind ; he supposes that he can instruct or amuse them, and 
the public, to whom he appeals, must, after all, be the judge of his 
pretensions." — Hill's BoswelVs Life, i., 199. 

XVI. (Page 196.) — I mentioned that I was afraid I put into my 
journal too many little incidents, fohnson : ** There is nothing, sir, too 
little for so little a creature as man. It is by studjdng little things that 
we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness 
as possible.'* — Hill's Boswell^ vol. i., 433. 

XVII. (Page 198.) — Johnson's own lack of punctuality was notorious ; 
like other moralists, there were not wanting occasions when the wisdom 
of his lips uttered bitter things against the folly of his life. 

XVIII. (Page 211.) — In the closing sentence of the next and final 
Rambler Dr. Johnson expresses the hope that he may be yet numbere(3 
with those authors who have given ** ardour to virtue and confidem 
to truth." That his hope has been fully realised is now a matter of cohm. - 
mon comment. The great moralist's wife died on the day on which time 
last number of the Rambler was published, and her removal from his 
side threw a gloom over his life, which time lessened but never efiS3u:ed. 


XIX. (Page 220.) — " He inculcated upon all his friends the import- 
ance of perpetual vigilance against the slightest degrees of falsehood ; the 
effect of which, as Sir Joshua Reynolds observed to me, has been that 
all who were of his school are distinguished for a love of truth and 
accuracy, which they would not have possessed in the same degree if 
they had not been acquainted with Johnson." — Hill's Boswell^ vol. iil, 

XX. (Page 23a)— Hermann Boerhaave (b. 1668, d. 1738) held tb 
cliairs of medicine and botany at the University of Leyden. A man - 
stainless character, whose fame rests chiefly on his Institutiones Media 
published in 1708, and translated into every language in Europe. 


'%\. (Pitgc 241.) — He mnde the common rernatk on the anhappiness 

Hen who haffe led a busy life experience, when they relirc in cx- 

la of enjoying tbemselves at ease, and tbat they generally languish 

it of their habitual occupation and wish to return to it. He roen- 

as Etroiig an instance of this as con well be imagined. "An 

inent tallow-chandler in London, who had acquired a considerable 

!, gave up the trade in favour of his foreman, and went to live at 

Mntry-house near town. He soon grew weary, and paid fteqaent 

o his old shop, where he desired they might let him know their 

Hng-days, and he would come and assist them j which he accord- 

lleie, sir, was a man, to whom the most di^usting 

n the business to which he had been used was a relief 

B idleness." — Hill's Boswell, vol. ti., 337. 

XII. (Page 262.) — It was bis custom to observe certain days with a 
« abstraction^viz.. New Year's day, the day of his wife's death, 
1 Friday, Easter-day, and his own birthday, He this year (1764) 
1 tifty-five years in resolving, having from the 
earliest time almost that I can remember, being forming schemes of a 
letter life. I have dotie nothing. The need of doing, therefore, is 
pressing, since the time of doing is short. O God, grant me to resolve 
aright, and to keep my resolutions, foi Jesus Christ's sake. Amen." — 
Prayers and Meditations, Boswell's Li^e ef Johnson, vol. L, 483, 

XXIII. (Page 26;.)— " People in general do not willingly read, if 
they can have anything else to amuse them. There must be an external 
impulse; emulation or vanity, or avarice. The progress which the 
understanding makes through a book bas more pain than pleasure in it, 
"s scanty and inadequate to express the nice gradations and 
our feelings. No man reads a book of science from pure 
"—Hill's Bosivell, vol iv., 218. 

unt of the labours and production* 
among the deficiencies of English 
ji is always starting from too little 
ig other disturbers of human quiet, 
body of riviettiers and rtmarkers." — Johnson's fntiminofy 
to the LendoH Chrenicls. 

1 the caprice 

on fl Fnamaiary j 



XXV. (Page 282.) — "Johnson's own superlative power of wit set 
him above risk of such uneasiness. Garrick remarked to me of him, 
' Rabelais and all the wits are nothing compared with him. You may 
be diverted by them ; but Johnson gives you a forcible hug, and shakes 
laughter out of you, whether you will or no.* " — Boswelts Lije^ ii., 231. 

XXVI. (Page 292. ) — Twenty years after Johnson wrote this phillipic 
we find, from the following conversation, that his prejudice was still as 
deeply rooted: — "The celebrated Mrs. Rudd being mentioned. 

Johnson: 'Fifteen years ago I should have gone to see her.* 
Spottiswoode : ' Because she was fifteen years younger? ' ' No, Sir ; but 
now they have a trick of putting everything into the newspapers.' " — 
Boswell, iii., 33a 

XXVII. (Page 294.)— The greatest living authority on the life and 

times of Johnson — ^his nineteenth century Boswell, in fact — Dr. Birkbeck=: 
Hill, thinks that in Mr. Sober we have a portrait of the Doctor, drawi^ 
by his own hand. There is unquestionably much in the sketch tc^ 
warrant such a conclusion. 

XXVIII. (Page 294.) — Dr. Johnson's repugnance to early-rising is 
well kno^irn. He struggled manfiiUy, bat unsuccessfully, against wha^ 
was in reality a constitutional infirmity. When at the height of his 
fame, the " Sultan of English Literature " was a man who was known 
to be never ready to go to bed, and once there, never ready to get out. 

XXIX. (Page 297.)— Dr. Johnson unconsciously describes himself 
in a phrase which occurs in this essay — " the ponderous dictator of 
sentences, whose notions are delivered in the lump, and are, like un- 
coined bullion, of more weight than use." The racy vigour and brilliant 
Ittdsiveness of his reported talk, heightens the contrast which exists 
^ween it, and the "terriffick diction" which marks his published 
%V4)ak Johnson often played the part of ** candid friend" to Oliver 
^^(i^J^klimith, and sometimes the light-hearted poet ventured to pay him 
fa(#A ^ his own coin, as the following incident shows : — " Goldsmith 
^^«i( V'i^ very fortunate in his witty contests, even when he entered 
t)||t^Wll with Johnson himself. Sir Joshua Reynolds was in company 


^''^^V^ them one day, when Goldsmith said, that he thought that he could 
^^'^^tie a good fable, mentioned the simplicity which that kind of com- 
petition requires, and observed that in most fables the animals introduced 
^.^*^om talk in character. *For instance,' said he, *the fable of the 

^^^le fishes, who saw birds fly over their heads, and envying them, 
P^^itioned Jupiter to be changed into birds. The skill,' he continued, 
^^^usists in making them talk like little fishes.' While he indulged 

^^^tiself in this fanciful review, he observed Johnson shaking his sides, 
J^^ laughing. Upon which he smartly proceeded, * Why, Dr. Johnson, 
.is is not so easy as you seem to think; for if you were to make 

*- Vie fishes talk, they would talk like whales.' " — Boswell, ii., 231. 

^_ ^XX. (Page 3CX).) — A pathetic interest attaches to this number of the 
V«?r. It was written two or three days after the death, at Lichfield, of 
Johnson's mother, at the advanced age of ninety ; an event which, 
cording to Boswell, "deeply affected him," since his "reverential 
ection for her was not abated by years, as indeed he retained all his 
nder feelings even to the latest period of his life." 

XXXI. (Page 305.) — Writing to Dr. Bumey, in the last year of his 
"^^fe (1784), Dr. Johnson says : — " I struggle hard for life. I take physic, 

nd take air; my friend's chariot is always ready. We have been 
^liis morning twenty-four miles, and could run forty-eight more. But 
^^^ho can run the race with decUh ? " 

XXXII. (Page 310.)— Dr. Johnson to Mrs. Thrale. 

" London, May i, 178a 
"Dearest Madam, 

"... Never let criticism operate on your face or your mind ; it is 
very rarely that an author is hurt by his criticks. The blaze of 
reputation cannot be blown out, but it often dies in the socket ; a very 
few names may be considered as perpetual lamps that shine uncon- 

XXXIII. (Page 326. )— [1772.] " Dr. Johnson went home with me to 
my lodgings in Conduit Street and drank tea, previous to our going to the 
Pantheon, which neither of us had seen before. He said, * Goldsmith's 
Life of Parnell is poor ; not that it is poorly written, but that he had 
poor materials ; for nobody can write the life of a man bat those who 


have eat and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him.' 
censured Ruffhead s Life of Pope ; and said ' he knew nothing of F 
and nothing of poetry.* " — Boswelly ii., i66. 

XXXIV. (Page 328.)—" If a life be delayed till interest and envy 
at an end, then we may hope for impartiality, but must expect li 
intelligence ; for the incidents which give excellence to biography 
of a volatile and evanescent kind, such as soon escape the mem< 
and are rarely transmitted by tradition." — The Rambler^ No. 60. 

XXXV. (Page 330.)—" Sir, it is the great excellence of a write 
put into his book as much as bis book will bold." — Boswelfs Life^ 

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with Inlioductlon, by R. Tomson. 

Songs and Poems of the Sea. An 

Anthology of Poems Descriptive ot the Sea, Edite^l by Mrs. 
' William Sharp, 

Songs and Poems of Fairyland, An 

Anthology of English Fairy Poetry, selected and amnged, with 
an Introduction, by Arthur Edward Waiie. 

London : Walter Scon-, 24 \Varwiclt Laoc, Paternoster Row 

This book shoilld be returned to 
the Library on or before the last date 
stamped below. 

A fine is incurred by retaining it 
beyond the specified time. 

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